A quarterly email from the Appalachian Regional Commission
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In Focus: Issues and Ideas Shaping Development in Appalachia
Vol. 2, No. 4
October 2018 edition: Appalachia's entrepreneurial ecosystems 
What are the key building blocks for a successful entrepreneurial ecosystem? How are Appalachian communities putting these concepts to work? What data and resources are available for each of the Region’s 420 counties?

These are some of the questions driving Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Appalachia, a suite of research reports and resources supporting entrepreneurial ecosystem development in Appalachia.
Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Appalachia. Learn more >

Core Elements of Successful Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

The concept of entrepreneurial ecosystems refers to a region’s “framework conditions” that serve to support the start-up and growth of new companies. Appalachian communities are at different stages when it comes to fostering supportive entrepreneurial environments; some are nascent and others are well-developed.

After a comprehensive literature review examining entrepreneurial development theory, the first report of the series identifies seven core elements associated with effective entrepreneurial ecosystems, including: market access, capital, talent, business assistance, specialized infrastructure & facilities, community culture, and regulatory & government support. “Ecosystems are not static things,” the report notes. “In successful regions, the ecosystem grows and evolves just as the local ventures also grow, evolve, and hopefully thrive.”

Read the report > 

Ecosystem Development Case Studies

Eight Appalachian communities were selected as case studies to reflect both the diversity and complexity of entrepreneurial ecosystem development. The seven core elements of entrepreneurial ecosystems were examined in each location, providing a large number of examples for other communities throughout the Region to explore and consider.
Read the case studies to see how:
  • Asheville, North Carolina’s entrepreneurial ecosystem contributes to the area’s thriving outdoor recreation, local food, and craft beer industry sectors.
  • Athens County, Ohio fosters deep public, private, and philanthropic partnerships to attract capital investment and expand market opportunities for entrepreneurs.
  • Cattaraugus County, New York intentionally integrates entrepreneurship into its regional economic growth strategy.
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee uses an expanding network of capital investors, dedicated place-based development, and institutionalized broadband access to support the area’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
  • New River Gorge/Greenbrier Valley, West Virginia is jumpstarting its entrepreneurial ecosystem in the wake of the area’s changing coal economy.
  • Alabama’s Shoals Region supports entrepreneurs as they identify local assets, develop successful work plans, and change the conversation about local economic development.
  • Garrett County, Maryland engages a network of regional partners to activate an entrepreneurial ecosystem in a rural setting.
  • Southwest Virginia systematically leverages its cultural and recreational assets to develop a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Read the report > 
Appalachia's Entrepreneurial Economy: A Snapshot

Your Community's Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Entrepreneurs are active across the entire Appalachian Region. offers a snapshot of entrepreneurial dynamism and an inventory of entrepreneurial support providers in each of the Region’s 420 counties. Searchable by county, this resource measures entrepreneurial dynamism by looking at three markers: startups, stage 2 companies, and high growth businesses. The provider directory, also searchable by county and organized by the seven core elements noted above, can help entrepreneurs find the support they need.

Visit >

Recommendations to Support Regional Entrepreneurial Development

An additional report includes recommendations for how entrepreneurial builders and champions can help communities initiate and support ecosystem development throughout the Region.

Read the report >
Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Appalachia is a partnership between EntreWorks Consulting, the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness, and the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship on behalf of the Appalachian Regional Commission. 
Map of the Appalachian Region

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.

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Appalachian Regional Commission
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Washington, DC 20009-1068