• Rich Overmoyer

Advancing the Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Building Field of Practice



I recently had the opportunity to join the Advisory Board of the Ecosystem Building Leadership Project, an initiative to collaboratively design, develop, and validate the model for the shared infrastructure needed to advance the field of entrepreneurship ecosystem building. With so much of our work focused on entrepreneurship and small business needs, I truly see the value in advancing work around how communities think about their support ecosystems. I caught up with Beth Zimmer, Program Manager at EBLP to learn more about this initiative.


What is the Ecosystem Building Leadership Project?


Entrepreneurship development and ecosystem building is a key economic, community, and workforce development focus area. Without entrepreneurship, our economies will never reach their potential. Without organizations and individuals to support them at every level, it will take much longer for entrepreneurs to reach their goals and many fewer will succeed. These organizations and individuals are collectively the entrepreneurship ecosystem.


Many communities have the elements of an entrepreneurial ecosystem, but they remain nascent or disconnected. Ecosystem builders step back and consider the whole system. They work together to enhance each part while building a collaborative culture and connectivity across the whole system.

The Ecosystem Building Leadership Project is an outcome of the Kauffman Foundation-driven ESHIP Summits and other inputs over the past several years. The focus is on building capacity for practitioners and resource providers, connecting and coordinating across the national ecosystem to ultimately better support entrepreneurs.


It is hosted by the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA) and co-chaired by Charles Ross, CEO of InBIA; Dell Gines, Inclusive Urban & Rural Development Economic Development Professional; & Kristin Leutz, Founder of Petra Impact Partners. Though the Kauffman Foundation is supporting and funding the project, it is not leading the work.


What is EBLP trying to accomplish?


It has been made clear that a backbone-like function is needed for the field that will provide shared leadership and easier ways for organizations and individuals to coordinate, collaborate, and build capacity to advance the field of Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Building. Ultimately this will greatly improve the support available for entrepreneurs across the country.


Its purpose today is to co-design the needed infrastructure with shared leadership that will advance the field of Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Building.


Who does EBLP hope to engage?


EBLP is engaging a large number of ecosystem-building practitioners in the field; past ESHIP Summit participants and people newer to the work. The co-design is to be accomplished by and for entrepreneurship ecosystem building practitioners and resource providers across the U.S.

The Project has also engaged a Collaborative Advisory Group of thought leaders from organizations that support Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Building across the US

How can people get involved?


Everyone is encouraged to participate in one or more of the following ways: