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Building our E-Quotient

Is Whistler doing enough to support tomorrowÕs entrepreneurs?



As the old joke goes the three biggest lies in the world are: 1. The cheque is in the mail. 2. I'll respect you in the morning. 3. I'm from the government and IÕm here to help.

While people can believe numbers 1 and 2 at their peril, the reality is that government must foster an innovative culture for the general social good. This requirement is not as well understood as it should be.

There is also the perception that the commercial sector is where most innovation comes from, when in actuality government originally financed many of the innovations the public now takes for granted. (It was government that paid for the original development of the Internet.) What needs to be considered is the role government plays in laying the foundation needed to foster a healthy and viable economic climate, particularly in how entrepreneurs are supported.

According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), an international project that measures global entrepreneurial activities, two features are critical in the entrepreneurial process: "One, the emergence or presence of market opportunities and, two, the capacity (i.e. motivation and skill) of the people to initiate new firms in pursuit of those opportunities. The entrepreneurial process is particularly robust in dynamic market settings where success is dictated by higher levels of creativity, innovation and speed to market."

Entrepreneurs create career opportunities for themselves but also for employees, and they supply the basis for viable communities.

According to the 2003 GEM Canadian National Report, Canada remains one of the most dynamic G7 nations with "8.0 per cent of its adult population engaged in entrepreneurial activities in 2003. Unfortunately, this is the third consecutive year where entrepreneurial activities in Canada have declined."

The report also highlights the fact that with the exception of the Prairie provinces (lots of farmers), British Columbians are more entrepreneurial than the rest of Canada with 9.6 per cent of their adult population participating in entrepreneurial activities.

Locally, the 2003-04 Resort Community Monitoring Report asserts that, "Of the total employed labor force, 6.7 per cent of Whistler employees identified themselves as self-employed."

If ours is a community that values entrepreneurship and innovation then it is crucial that we understand WhistlerÕs entrepreneurial quotient (E-Quotient). A communityÕs E-Quotient can be measured in part by factors such as its ability to attract new businesses, its ability to retain and sustain existing businesses, a skilled talent pool, and its ability to incubate new business start-ups.

To evaluate our community's E-Quotient, fundamental questions must be asked. Are we doing enough to provide entrepreneurs with an environment that creates innovation? What is the blueprint to create this culture? Is the government really capable of helping? And how do these fundamentals relate to municipal governance?