Maybe Dublin is the best place to start a business

Columbus OhioI may just have seen the next breakthrough technology company in its infancy.

Yesterday, I spent the morning taking a behind the scenes tour of the Dublin Entrepreneurial Center, in Dublin, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus.  The DEC is home to 80 aspiring start-up companies focused in the fields of Technology, Green, and International business.

Can a region have a monopoly on start-ups?

I’ve spent time working in Silicon Valley, and it’s like driving around inside my computer.  On each trip to Palo Alto, I’d drive by the region’s famous facilities; the Googleplex, Facebook headquarters, the HP Garage, and my iPhone has made a pilgrimage to the 1 Infinite Loop address that’s featured on its Maps app icon. Even Aol has a presence (yes, they’re still alive).

My sister calls it Geek-o-Tourism.

But as I spent more time there, the Silicon Valley mystique wore off.  Is there really a regional monopoly on new business development?  Are there really better and more viable ideas there than other parts of the world?

And what about the workers…the best businesses of the new economy can benefit from the most talented people regardless of their location, right?

A supportive environment for entrepreneurs

The Dublin Entrepreneurial Center began four years ago as a partnership between the City of Dublin and TechColumbus to provide services and promote an environment to increase deal flow for potential entrepreneurial and technology development resulting in more new businesses and job creation in Dublin and the surrounding area.

Yesterday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new home to the DEC marked the official opening of a state-of-the-art facility to meet the needs of its expanding client base.  In addition to providing 21st century office space at affordable rates, the DEC provides assistance for startups, including access to a SOC 2 / HIPAA certified data center.

Perhaps most importantly, through partnerships with the Ohio Small Business Development Centers and other organizations, the DEC provides services designed to help the budding entrepreneur gain knowledge and connections.  They offer business and technical advisory sessions and programming tailored to new and expanding businesses. 150 such events were held at the DEC in 2012.

Colleen Gilger, Economic Development Manager for the City of Dublin, says one of the best aspects is the sense of community present in the incubator environment. “The entrepreneurs at the DEC benefit from sharing their experience and expertise as they bring their own ideas to market.  Many find their ideas to be complementary and begin to work together as they move their ideas forward, which promotes the DEC community as a whole.”

What’s the ROI of supporting entrepreneurialism?

According to Gilger, if you’re thinking about immediate return on a community’s investment in such an endeavor, you’re in the wrong business.  It’s all about nurturing the next generation of successful companies.

“Of the clients at the DEC, one of these companies may be the next Cardinal Health,” she said, referring to the one-time start-up business that currently ranks #21 on the Fortune 500, and still maintains its global headquarters in Dublin.

“What they need in the short term is the support and resources to test the validity of their idea, to shape their business plan, and to gain the expertise and connections to take their idea to market,” she added.  “That process may take years, but in the end the payoff can be tremendous for the business and the community.  Providing that supportive environment is what the DEC is all about.”

It’s this kind of commitment to the business community that earned Dublin the title of Best Small City in America to Start a New Business from Fox Business News a couple years ago, and the city of Columbus to be named a TOP7 Intelligent Community of 2013 by the Intelligent Community Forum – the only US city to make the list.

So… WHERE IS the best place to start a business?

Trick question.

It’s not the Place that’s important when starting a business, it’s the Environment.  As the world becomes more virtual, there’s less and less reason for a 90-minute commute and sky-high housing.

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Categories: Startups

Author:Doug Evans

Doug Evans is an accomplished marketing leader with wide-ranging experience in diverse business environments including non-profit, small private business, major national bank, and Silicon Valley software company. He has a knack for bringing together teams from across geography and organizational lines. He keeps active by playing and coaching soccer, and is also Marketing/PR Director for an acoustic music concert series in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

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  1. Maybe Dublin is the best place to start a business | DEC in Dublin - February 15, 2013

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