Ignite Erie - A Conversation About Innovation - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Ignite Erie - A Conversation About Innovation

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If you've ever dreamed of starting your own business, your idea might be just what it takes to "Ignite Erie."  That was the theme of a "day of innovation" here in Erie. It was well attended by a mix of entrepreneurs of all ages, policy makers and leaders in economic development and education.

Here's one reason for all of the interest.  National studies show that all net new jobs in the economy are created by firms 5 years old or younger.  Local studies show it's an area where northwest Pennsylvania is lagging behind.

Part one of Ignite Erie's day of innovation was a luncheon held at the Jefferson Society, where two nationally recognized innovation economy experts came to share their wisdom.

Rich Bend is, the keynote speaker founded a national public-private partnership that's all about accelerating the growth of the "innovation economy."

Ray Leach, CEO of Cleveland based non-profit "Jumpstart," helped turn his city around from a 12 year stretch as the worst performing large regional entrepreneurial economy in the country.

Both agree success is about fanning the flames of innovation right here at home. "Communities states and regions are much more focused on organic economic development...how do we grow our own as opposed to figuring out package deals to attract large companies or keep jobs in their community," said Leach.  Jumpstart had been focused on Ohio in its first 7 years, but has expanded and is now working on projects across the country, including here in Erie.

"What you have to do is identify what your assets are, identify the gaps around those assets, build an eco-system that will support the type of growth of small to medium enterprises but also don't forget about the existing business that also resides here which is very critical to the economy today, said Bendis.

The experts call it "economic gardening," figuring out ideas with high growth potential and making sure they have the talent and resources to grow. They say human capital, especially from millennial age 25 - 35 is they key to the future. 

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