City Fosters Small Business and Startup Ecosystems
Dallas is known as an innovative place for big business, but an often overlooked part of the City’s success story is the impact and role of small businesses and startup companies.
Corporate giants like AT&T, Texas Instruments, Southwest Airlines and Dean Foods chose Dallas because of global accessibility through its airports, highways and railroads; a talented workforce of more than 800,000 and a culture and history of public/private partnerships.
But 90 percent of the city’s business landscape is made up of 130,000 self-employed, sole proprietor and microbusinesses – businesses that can have a bigger impact on local employment than national corporate chains.
In fact, many of the qualities that bring big business to Dallas also fuel the small business economy. As a result, this vibrant small business environment is fast becoming an important hub for startups. That fact has not been unnoticed by the City’s Office of Economic Development (OED).
“Public and private partnerships are critical to small business projects,” said City of Dallas Business Network Manager Daniel Oney. “The ecosystem is a relatively new term for all the support services available in a community, so when it comes to small businesses, the real hope is support services like business planning, marketing, accounting, networking and funding opportunities are available to foster growth and development.”
The OED is also helping to build the capacity of business support organizations in traditionally under-served communities. The City has supported the operation, creation or reestablishment of merchants associations and chambers of commerce in South Dallas, Fair Park, West Dallas and Pleasant Grove. These neighborhood-focused groups provide important benefits in terms of networking and marketing a neighborhood.
And when it comes to technology startups, OED plays an active role at City Hall, facilitating event permits and introductions to key departments. “It is extremely meaningful for the City to be represented at these events,” said Oney. “It lends credibility to these fledgling businesses and helps raise awareness in the wider business communities of the importance of new companies and innovation.”
A current example is Startup Week, March 2-6, in downtown Dallas, a nationally branded event organized and hosted by volunteers and entrepreneurs. The event is expected to attract more than 10,000 people at 100 events covering a diverse set of topics including food, fashion, transportation and real estate.
A unique feature of Dallas Startup Week is City Fair, from noon to 4 p.m. Thursday March 5 at City Hall. This event gives DFW area companies the opportunity to introduce their hometowns as great places to be for aspiring entrepreneurs and new businesses.
“By helping the community promote and celebrate itself through events like Startup Week, we are helping shape its image in the growing national startup community,” said Oney. “By presenting a development-friendly face to local businesses and fostering an environment that may lead to great new collaborations, we’re confident that the results will be great ideas and businesses for the next generation.
Companies or groups interested in City Fair should contact Shea Davis at (214) 515-9679, or [email protected].