The Kauffman Index has released its 2016 report detailing the growth of entrepreneurship across 40 major US metros. Charlotte landed in the number 11 spot up two spots from 2015. Overall 34 of the 40 Metros saw an increase in entrepreneurship, with Charlotte seeing a 45.4% growth and one new IPO. The Index focuses on three indicators, rate of start up growth, “Scale-ups” or business growing from small to large, and high growth company density (private companies with at a minimum 20% annualized growth and 2M in revenue).
Although this report looks across many different industries, the tech sector leads the high growth industries. I spoke to a Charlotte tech and innovation pioneer and the owner of Enventys in Uptown Charlotte, Louis Foreman, about the growth of the Entrepreneur class in Charlotte and why we are seeing a local surge. ”Innovation and Entrepreneurship is thriving around the country, and Charlotte is beginning to feel the impact. For those of us living here, we recognize that Charlotte is a great city to live, work, and play. Well, the secret is getting out and others are experiencing it as well. We need to continue to welcome entrepreneurs and provide the resources and infrastructure for these innovators to take root and then grow.” Louis is at the heart of this entrepreneurship revolution. Enventys specializes in product design and development and holds over 500 patents, which unfortunately is 500 more than I own.
Another person helping to lead the charge is Dan Roselli the CEO and Founder of Packard Place. Roselli created an office hub in the heart of Charlotte that house over 100 different innovative companies. Roselli is continuing his entrepreneurial expansion, looking for additional space in Charlotte to build another hub for local start-ups. Roselli says, “Charlotte has experienced nothing short of an entrepreneurial renaissance over the last 5 years. One of the silver linings of the great recession was the broader Charlotte community realizing how important entrepreneurship is to the next 20 years of economic development in the Charlotte region. The massive influx of millennial, creative class and entrepreneurial talent into our community over the last 5 years has helped fuel this explosive growth. Entrepreneurship is just the cool thing to do in Charlotte now.”
I enjoy speaking to innovators like Dan and Louis because they have a unique hunger for knowledge and a passion for watching other people succeed and grow. I discovered from them another key that makes their entrepreneurship hubs successful are “collisions.” These are not the type of collisions that stress out my State Farm agent but the act of entrepreneurs bumping into someone at the hub or the new coffee shop in the Packard Place lobby, Not Just Coffee, that can inadvertently help you in your business. Dan and Louis have told me that these collisions are glorious accidents, that while unplanned, are part of the fuel that drives their hub and make it the best place to grow a startup. It could be an accidental meeting that produces a cash investment, a technical problem solved on a napkin, or a connection that solves a logistical issue. We can’t know what collision will spark the next outbreak of entrepreneurism in Charlotte, but we can bet that it will happen in a place that is engineered for that purpose.
With champions of innovation like Dan and Louis, Charlotte should continue to climb the ranks and more importantly continue to make a difference on the economic landscape of the US.
To review the full report visit: http://www.kauffman.org