MaryBeth Matzek: Programs team up to put entrepreneurs on the right track

This is an excerpt from a column posted at BizOpinion.

Dave Linz wasn’t surprised to hear the results of a survey announced late last month that Wisconsin lags behind other states when it comes to the new jobs created by entrepreneurs.

But while the 2012 Business Dynamics Statistics data shows Wisconsin ranked third lowest in the nation when it comes to the number of businesses created by entrepreneurs, the interim director of the University of Wisconsin-Extension Center for Technology Commercialization says the state is moving in the right direction and creating an atmosphere that embraces entrepreneurs.

“When you’re on the ground floor like we are, you can see the needle moving and seeing entrepreneurs finding success,” Linz says. “That data is just one piece of the puzzle. There’s a whole ecosystem out there helping innovative people take their idea and find a way to turn it into a business opportunity. There’s definitely a groundswell of support for entrepreneurs in Wisconsin.”

The Business Dynamics Statistics report revealed Wisconsin entrepreneurs created 5,757 businesses with employees, which was about 5.8 percent of the state’s total employer firms. The average for the nation is a bit above 7 percent. But while Wisconsin didn’t fare well in the number of new businesses created, it did do well in another area: the survival rate for new businesses in the state is higher than the national average.

Lisa Johnson, vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., says the state is home to a lot of innovative ideas, but the key is taking those ideas and transforming them into viable businesses.

“This is something the WEDC has been focused on and we have a number of programs in place to help entrepreneurs, but partnerships with other organizations and the University of Wisconsin have also been important,” she says.

The Start-Seed-Scale (S3) initiative is one way the WEDC along with the UW System and other business leaders are looking to help entrepreneurs launch their businesses by helping to remove as many barriers as possible. Johnson says the various S3 programs includes financial and operational assistance programs designed to specifically address business startup and seed- funding challenges in Wisconsin.

Read the full column for more