The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


November 10, 2012

LINDA THOMSON | A week to support innovation

— Do you have a burning desire to start your own business but have never had the opportunity to do so?

Or, perhaps you started a business and it’s time to take the company to the next level. Whatever the case, if you are an innovator, like to work hard and take well thought-out risks, you may have what it takes to be successful as an entrepreneur.

 This week, millions of people in 129 countries from Russia to Australia will celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week. Leaders around the world will participate and support a wide range of events for one very good reason: Entrepreneurs create new economic activity resulting in more wealth and jobs for a community or nation.

Former President Bill Clinton will be in London to headline a major entrepreneurship event there, while Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is supporting the largest entrepreneurship celebration ever held in her country. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is presenting awards to the most innovative Israeli entrepreneurs during events in Negev.

In the United States, President Barack Obama issued a proclamation naming November National Entrepreneurship Month. In the declaration, he said, “This month, and during Global Entrepreneurship Week, let us renew the spirit of innovation that has fueled more than two centuries of American progress and promises to drive us in the years to come.”

This is the fourth consecutive year for the proclamation touting entrepreneurship.

Why a global awareness of entrepreneurship? Here is what’s at stake: Young companies (less than 5 years old) make up less than 35 percent of businesses in the United States and, I suspect, across the globe.

In the 1980s, that percentage was larger, with 50 percent of businesses considered “young.” The fact is that fewer people are starting companies than in the past. Much of the reason is due to the economic downturn of the past five years.

Consider that younger companies are more likely to be innovative and flexible than older companies. Innovation and flexibility drive new markets and products. New markets and products drive economic development.

Although JARI is well known for our work with the regional defense sector, work-force development initiatives, and site selection and financing services, JARI also is a community resource for assisting entrepreneurs.

Hundreds of companies throughout the Cambria-Somerset region, particularly during their formative years, have benefited from our guidance since our organization began in 1974. JARI, along with our partners in economic development and in secondary and higher education, stand ready to work with a new and inspired group of entrepreneurs who ultimately will be our next business leaders.  

This week, a sample of local entrepreneurs will be showcased daily in The Tribune-Democrat. Take a look and see for yourself what it takes to be an entrepreneur and whether it might just be for you.

There are more great stories to tell than we have space, so here’s a way to “congratulate” an entrepreneur you know: Vote for your favorite entrepreneur by sending a message to Let’s see how many we can recognize during Global Entrepreneurship Week.

Linda Thomson is president and CEO of Johnstown Area Regional Industries.

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