Claremore Daily Progress

November 4, 2012

Entrepreneur Ready: Claremore getting certification through new RSU program

Salesha Wilken
Staff Reporter

CLAREMORE — The City of Claremore is nearing the end of its Entrepreneur Ready Community certification process — a program designed to help the city become more entrepreneur-friendly.

Under the direction of Rogers State University’s Innovation Center, the process started over a year ago as a team of community leaders began meeting to address issues related to entrepreneurship in Claremore.
Becoming a Entrepreneur Ready Community means the overall business climate, policies, regulations, and opportunities to learn and grow are available and simple to find, explained Jeri Koehler, director of the Innovation Center.
“It also means there’s a positive, enthusiastic attitude that permeates the culture; one that asks ‘How can we help you start and succeed at business?’” Koehler said. “The certification guarantees that everything’s in place; that resources are easy to find and the people behind them are helpful, friendly, and eager to help.”
The leadership team has worked to clarify the needs of local entrepreneurs using a focus group and survey, developed a plan to educate entrepreneurs about finance, and identified and compiled extensive resources for them.
“We have been addressing the reputation that the city and county are difficult to work with,” Koehler said. “We have to create the community we want it to be.”
As part of certification process, the Claremore has developed a streamlined business assistance program made changes to its website to make information and resources more accessible for entrepreneurs.
Koehler noted the benefits of Entrepreneur Ready Community certification include job creation, retention of local talent and youth, the opportunity to promote the community and its special resources, and the attraction of entrepreneur and retention of talent and money that might otherwise leak away to other communities and states.
Over the past few years, communities have seen a number of large businesses — especially manufacturing — close their doors, leaving many unemployed. 
According to the Innovation Center’s Entrepreneur Ready website, economic developers in cities and towns across Oklahoma are realizing they must not only attract industry but also promote sustainable job growth through entrepreneurial development.
For those interested in learning more about Entrepreneur Ready Community certification, the Innovation Center will host the 3rd Annual Economic Gardening Conference from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Nov. 15. 
Economic Gardening is an innovative entrepreneur-centered economic growth strategy that offers balance to the traditional economic practice of businesses recruitment.
Registration for the Economic Gardening Conference is $35. For more information, call Lynn Wilson at the RSU Innovation Center at (918) 343-7533.