FutureMakers Coalition is excited to announce the formation of the new Resilience and Diversification Regional Action Team led by Peter Oscody, PhD, Founder, PreneurDomain. This new Regional Action Team is focused on ensuring our region’s workforce and economy are resilient by cultivating a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem. Toward that end, entrepreneurial education is an indispensable cornerstone in the development of a thriving economy, especially in regions like Southwest Florida where small businesses and startups play an instrumental role. These enterprises not only create a dynamic economic atmosphere but also fortify the economic resilience of the area. By cultivating an educational environment that emphasizes entrepreneurial skills and mindset from K-12 onwards, we can set the foundation for a more robust and adaptive future for Southwest Florida.
Why is Entrepreneurial Education Important?
There are several compelling reasons to embed entrepreneurial education deeply within the region’s educational infrastructure:
- Economic Diversification: Southwest Florida’s economic vitality is intrinsically linked to the diversity of its industries. With a stronger emphasis on entrepreneurial education, students are equipped to explore and enter a broader array of sectors, thus diversifying and strengthening the region’s economic base.
- Cultivating a Growth Mindset: Entrepreneurial education fosters a growth mindset in students. They are encouraged to see failures as learning opportunities, to be persistent, and to approach problems with innovative solutions. This mindset is invaluable not just for starting businesses but in myriad aspects of life.
- Stimulating Local Economy: By nurturing homegrown entrepreneurs, we ensure a continuous influx of local businesses that cater to the unique needs and characteristics of the Southwest Florida region. This not only boosts the local economy but also creates job opportunities and retains talent within the region.
- Skill Development: Entrepreneurial education equips students with a versatile set of skills – from critical thinking and problem-solving to financial literacy and leadership. These skills are transferable and beneficial even for those who do not pursue entrepreneurship, making them more adaptable in the evolving job market.
- Building Community Networks: When entrepreneurial mindsets are nurtured from a young age, it leads to the establishment of a supportive community of innovators, mentors, and investors. This ecosystem is essential for budding entrepreneurs to thrive and for the continuous exchange of ideas.
- Empowering the Youth: Empowerment comes from the knowledge that one has the tools and abilities to shape their future. By giving students the tools to create, innovate, and drive change, we’re fostering a generation that believes in its potential to make a difference.
- Future-proofing the Economy: The future landscape of business and work is unpredictable. By fostering entrepreneurial skills, we are ensuring that the next generation is not just equipped to find jobs but to create them, adapting to whatever the future holds.
The Action Team’s Goals
These reasons provide a firm foundation upon which the Resilience and Diversification Regional Action Team can work toward the following goals.
- To enhance entrepreneurship Education in K-12 schools in all five counties in Southwest Florida.
- To increase the number of entrepreneurship programs offered and students studying entrepreneurship in all major universities and the five technical colleges in Southwest Florida.
- To increase the number of entrepreneurship programs offered to adults outside of universities and colleges.
- To develop of the Southwest Florida Startup Community.
- To improve of the Southwest Florida entrepreneurial ecosystem.
To measure the team’s progress over time, two key outcomes were identified. These metrics will be reported on a routine basis in the annual Educational and Workforce Outcomes Report.
- The number of new businesses started in the region – and by county.
- The number of employees at startups and the business longevity – by industry, by type of startup.
In addition, the team may also present as appropriate a number of other possible data from local sources:
- The number of students exposed to entrepreneurship – elementary, middle, and high school, and universities and technical colleges (disaggregated).
- The number of districts and schools that have structured entrepreneurship programs offered – elementary, middle, high school, and universities and colleges.
- The number of entrepreneurship programs offered outside schools, especially in underserved and disadvantaged communities.
- The number of schools that participate in local or regional entrepreneurship competitions – K-12 level and university/college level.
- The number of pitch events offered in the Southwest Florida region.
- The assets density and available resources and support – by county, by city.
Who Should Participate?
The Resilience and Diversification Regional Action Team welcomes anyone to the team who is interested in improving and expanding entrepreneurial education. The well of regional expertise is deep (but not limited to):
- Government Entities
- Local and county economic development agencies
- School district representatives
- Local government units supporting workforce development
- Nonprofits & NGOs
- Organizations focused on entrepreneurship and small business development
- Groups dedicated to workforce development and skills training
- Organizations that support underserved and disadvantaged communities
- Educational Institutions
- K-12 school curriculum developers, academy directors, either with or without business and entrepreneurship programs
- Universities and colleges with business schools and/or entrepreneurship programs
- Technical and vocational schools offering courses in business and related fields
- Research institutions that can provide data and insights on local economic trends
- Businesses & Corporations
- Local chambers of commerce
- Business incubators, accelerators, and coworking spaces
- Major employers in the region, especially those in industries targeted for diversification
- Financial institutions that can provide funding or financial literacy training
- Established entrepreneurs willing to mentor or provide guidance to schools and the community
- Professionals with expertise in business development, marketing, finance, and other relevant fields
- Individuals with a background in economic development or regional planning
- Other Organizations
- Trade and industry associations
- Groups, clubs, and meetups focused on entrepreneurship or business networking
- Organizations that host or sponsor business competitions, pitch events, or other entrepreneurial activities
Let’s Do This!
Enhancing entrepreneurial education in K-12 and beyond is more than just an educational upgrade; it’s a strategic investment in Southwest Florida’s future. By embedding these skills and values early on, we are ensuring that the future viability, vibrancy, and resilience of the Southwest Florida economy is in competent and innovative hands.
Preliminary data for the Resilience and Diversification Regional Action Team are presented here, as well as in the 2023 Educational and Workforce Outcomes Report (https://www.futuremakerscoalition.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/2023-Annual-Report_FINAL.pdf). The Resilience and Diversification Regional Action Team is continuing to explore the available data sources with the Data and Reporting Team to determine the best methods to estimate the desired outcomes.