Project Report

Gilbert is a remarkable community, having growth from a few thousand residents in 1970 to become one of the 100 largest municipalities in the United States. To develop an entrepreneurial strategy for the Town, we first documented the impact of business starts:

  • Nearly 17,000 businesses started in the last decade were still in operation.
  • Startup businesses make up 88.8% of all businesses in the Town, and provide 62.4 percent of its jobs.
  • Businesses in the Town are small, with only one in 20 having more than five employees.
  • Business starts are increasing, but the average number of employees is decreasing, and the businesses are growing more slowly than in the past.
  • In addition to startup businesses, there are over 17,000 contingent workers - freelancers, consultants, and contract workers - in the Town.
  • Branch establishments that had been attracted to the community provide 26.2% of the Towns jobs. These are mostly in food service and retail.

Gilbert might be described as an immature economy. As a relatively young and rapidly growing place, it does not have many long-established companies that have had time to grow. This is reflected in patterns of employment in the region. At the same time, a growing population and lack of entrenched competition present opportunities for entrepreneurs.

A survey of established businesses, recent startups, and potential entrepreneurs helped to assess impediments to entrepreneurship and needs that might be addressed by the Town's economic development staff.

The resulting strategy contains several elements such as improving entrepreneurial education, expanding access to technical assistance and physical resources, developing a program to prepare businesses for Economic Gardening, and supporting industry-driven networking opportunities.



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