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Ventura County Study Advocates ‘Collaborative’ Economic Development

Ray Bowman, director of the Ventura County Economic Development Collaborative’s Small Business Development Center, has co-authored a study that found government-funded economic programs can produce more successful business ventures by utilizing a two-step “collaborative learning” model. A statement from the Small Business Development Center described the model as follows: “The first step is an assessment evaluating a venture’s willingness to commit time to the process; the second encompasses advisor determination of capacity and proclivity for collaborative learning.” The study, titled “Even Winners Need to Learn: How Government Entrepreneurship Programs Can Support Innovative Ventures,” was based on analysis of more than 1,700 ventures that enrolled in the Small Business Development Center’s advisory services from 2011 to 2016. According to the study’s abstract, the authors found “treatment design is more crucial than selection for innovative firms to achieve growth. We found that treatment time and a client’s willingness to learn collaboratively from their advisors are vital indicators of growth.” Bowman is part of a four-person research team that published the study in July in the Journal of Policy Research. The Economic Development Collaborative is a private, county-funded nonprofit that provides business consulting, funding and other initiatives to support the region’s economy. The Small Business Development Center is a partner to the Collaborative and is funded in part by the Small Business Administration. According to a statement from EDC President Bruce Stenslie, ‘Bowman’s published work demonstrates that the EDC’s current business model – one that deliberately fosters collaborative community engagement and learning – delivers the highest return on investment for growing business and economic outcomes.”

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