I’ve been involved in the startup space for about two decades as a serial entrepreneur of for-profit and non-profit ventures. I started the entrepreneurship program at Southern Methodist University and co-founded the Dallas Innovation Alliance, the Dallas Entrepreneur Center, and most recently, InnoCity Partners.
Last year, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson appointed me co-chair of the city’s task force on innovation and entrepreneurship, which developed recommendations to attract, retain and grow start-ups. . (I encourage you to read the report online.) Our city was built on innovation – its history is filled with stories of entrepreneurs, beasts and pioneers who made the region what it is today today.
To continue to evolve, grow and attract top talent, we must continuously and intentionally engage with our innovators. A conducive environment for launching and building start-up companies will result in more jobs and a stronger economy.
Here are five things we need to do to be a city of innovation:
- Provide financial support. Mayor Johnson’s Task Force on Innovation and Entrepreneurship has recommended the launch of a “fund of funds”, which would lead to massive investment in the region. This would create exponential job growth and a stronger local economy.
- Establish innovation zones. One way to bring needed and deserved attention to our city is to highlight areas where Dallas is leading by creating different zones of innovation. This would showcase the diversity of innovation we have across the market.
- Make innovation a private sector priority. Dallas business leaders have been a powerful force in North Texas for decades. Corporate and private enterprise CEOs must scale up and champion innovation through investment, resources, and other forms of support.
- Harness the power of education. It is through the combined strengths of our educational institutions at all levels of training that we are beginning to see what is possible to attract and develop the region’s future talent.
- Create a “give first” culture. One of the biggest differentiators between Dallas and other big cities is that we’re ready to help others succeed. Deepening this “give first” mentality in Dallas will unleash the city’s true potential.
Trey Bowles is co-founder of InnoCity Partners and co-chair of the Mayor’s Task Force on Innovation and Entrepreneurship.