The Roots of an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

by Dr. Ruben Boling, director, Center for the Future of North Georgia, Mike Cottrell College of Business

(as seen in the August issue of the Cumming-Forsyth Chamber of Commerce newsletter)

Startup incubators, innovation centers and hubs are being created throughout the United States. These organizations drive new innovation, new jobs and wealth in communities. The Center of the Future of North Georgia in the Mike Cottrell College of Business at the University of North Georgia (UNG) believes that the north Georgia region can be one of those hubs, but it will take newfound partnerships, targeted efforts and hard work. And it all begins with our current and future entrepreneurs.

Everyone reading this article knows an entrepreneur. Whether it be someone that is simply coming up with innovative ideas or someone who has already done the hard work of starting their own business, entrepreneurs can be found throughout our community. There are no barriers to age, position or knowledge in entrepreneurship. It can be anyone.

But, for us to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem, and for north Georgia to become a hub for new ideas and business ventures, our regional entrepreneurs have to take a leading role. Entrepreneurs understand what it takes to start and grow a business. That is why they must lead the change and show the need for support by their regional community. This does not mean that they do all the work. Everyone at all levels must share the same vision and desire to make the necessary change. That’s why it is called an ecosystem.

From local governments creating policies that support startups to high schools and universities like UNG providing the right skills for graduates needed in these new ventures, the entire community can come together to create and deliver support for the entrepreneurially-minded. However, we need entrepreneurs to help us understand what needs to be done and communicate these needs with all organizations – students, university faculty and staff, service organizations, chambers of commerce, politicians, etc.. This open dialogue is critical.

This is not a short-term project that has a specific end. The growing and strengthening of the ecosystem requires a long-term commitment and willingness to continually change. We can set short-term goals, but the ecosystem must continue to evolve and grow stronger.

The Center for the Future of North Georgia at UNG wants to be part of this conversation and is working diligently to deliver the knowledge needed to make north Georgia our state’s next great entrepreneurial incubator.

In my last article in this series, I’ll discuss some of the details of what we need to consider to build this entrepreneurial ecosystem. In addition, the University of North Georgia, in partnership with the Cumming-Forsyth Chamber of Commerce will be holding the second of two lunch and learn events in Cumming, GA with the last event being held on September 21st at Noon. In addition, please go ahead and mark your calendars for October 4th as we hold our second annual StartItUp Conference at the Forsyth Conference Center where we discuss entrepreneurship in our region and hear from 4 entrepreneurs who all got their start here in our state. Tickets are now available at We hope you can make it.

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