Owensboro is aiming to attract talented entrepreneurs by highlighting its revitalized downtown, new riverfront, convention center, new restaurants, arts organizations and good schools.
Joe Berry is vice president of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation. He says public-private partnerships like the Owensboro Centre for Business and Research provide office and laboratory space, including $2 million in shared lab equipment, and that helps attract talent.
The basic goal for economic development in any region is generally to go out and attract big manufacturers that create lots of jobs.
That’s still important. But Berry says there’s a big advantage in tapping into the nation’s entrepreneurial spirit.
"If you look at economic data and trends that are emerging around the globe, we are, quite frankly, in a global war for talent," said Berry.
"Regions that are able to attract and retain talent are the ones that are going to remain economically competitive in the long run," he said.
Berry says it starts with local talent launching startups in technology, life sciences and traditional small business. A dozen of those companies are in the 37,000-square-foot Owensboro Centre for Business and Research.
"An evolving and growing part of our local economy is companies that are operating in this kind of space," said Berry. "So the purpose of this business incubator is to truly grow and foster those kinds of new companies in this region and help further diversify our economy and create the companies of tomorrow."
Berry says the business incubator has a good mix of 12 companies. The center also houses a new high school, Owensboro Innovation Academy, which opened Aug. 5
The region is spotlighting its small town, community atmosphere, including a low cost of living, and some big city cultural amenities. Berry says that combination is intended to attract a segment of entrepreneurs who are looking for a home for their family, as well as their business.