TechGROWTH Ohio offers best practice in rural entrepreneurship, according to new journal article

Alexis Eichelberger
September 19, 2018

Dr. Jason Jolley, Voinovich School associate professor of economic development, and TechGROWTH Ohio director John Glazer recently coauthored an academic article discussing the success of TechGROWTH in uniquely cultivating rural entrepreneurship. The piece was published this summer in the Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy

Jolley said the idea for the article came to him during his time as president of the Mid-Continent Regional Science Association, which publishes the journal. He was organizing a symposium on rural entrepreneurship, and he and Glazer agreed that TechGROWTH’s activity was relevant to several issues discussed in the available literature on the topic.

“Thinking about some of the best practices in rural entrepreneurship, I thought about TechGROWTH as a model to advance that, because of its work here within the school,” Jolley said.

Glazer, Jolley, and Ikenna Uzuegbunam, an assistant professor of strategy in the Ohio University College of Business, cowrote the paper, which describes the program, explains the nature of its public/private partnership, and touts its successes in incubating entrepreneurship in rural Southeast Ohio.

“The article states, in effect, that properly designed, a public/private partnership to fund early startup companies can avoid the pitfalls and the traps and challenges that have plagued other programs,” Glazer said. “And that the success of the TechGROWTH program pointed to ways in which that was possible.”

The article serves as both a source of publicity for programs like TechGROWTH and as a reference to explain its success, Glazer said.

“I believe that one of the benefits we got from the paper is that it functions as a kind of validation that the program that we designed and implemented really did speak to national issues and really did create a model,” he said.

The key point, Glazer said, is that rural entrepreneurs don’t lack for ideas. Many people in rural communities have imagined good solutions to difficult problems. What they lack are the resources to develop their ideas. Programs like TechGROWTH provide those resources and help entrepreneurs cultivate their ideas.

“The takeaway is really that rural areas are not lacking in entrepreneurial activity,” Glazer said. “They’re lacking in the support structure to know what to do with it. And that support structure needs to sort of tailor its practices around who people are instead of sort of fitting them into a predefined profile and giving them a quick yes or no.”