COVID-19 and Entrepreneurial Firms:
Seeding an Inclusive and Equitable Recovery

In the spring of 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic began to unfold and it became clear that the emerging public health threat was also a threat to businesses and the economy, policymakers responded by providing emergency funding aimed at keeping businesses and the economy afloat.

In this report, we examine these federal, state, and local recovery funds and the extent to which various programs address the inequities experienced by small and new firms – particularly businesses owned by Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC), businesses owned by women, and businesses owned by individuals in historically under-resourced communities. We highlight some of the more inclusive and equitable programs that have been developing in some states and local governments as part of this recovery.

Although data on impact and reach is still limited, we discuss the information available about outcomes of these relief and recovery programs and provide insights about how to support entrepreneurs.

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Early Lessons from COVID-19 Pandemic

In our recent report by Smart Incentives and the Kauffman Foundation, “COVID-19 and Entrepreneurial Firms: Seeding an Inclusive and Equitable Recovery,” we review federal, state, and local responses to support small and new businesses through the pandemic and recovery. Three key insights emerged that can guide program leaders and policymakers in their design thinking to tackle future challenges in a way that is agile, responsive, and intentional about equity.

Incentives For Entrepreneurial Firms

Many economic development organizations (EDOs) have embraced the mission to support entrepreneurial firms in their communities. EDOs engage in their entrepreneurial ecosystems, in part, by providing resources, sometimes in the form of business incentives.

The purpose of this report is to provide practitioners and policymakers with insights regarding the use of these incentives and guidance for offering incentives to entrepreneurial firms. Researchers and policymakers use a wide range of definitions for “entrepreneurial firm” and “incentive,” making it difficult to categorize and describe the current state of entrepreneurial firm incentives. Multiple additional research challenges, including a lack of data on program outcomes, hinder the ability to draw definitive policy guidance from both program evaluations and academic research. This report strives to sort this tangle of material into a framework that is helpful for policymakers and economic development practitioners.

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Reflecting Community Priorities In Economic
Development Practices

Economic development that is equitable, inclusive, and outcome-driven for residents begins by prioritizing community engagement and clearly linking that engagement to actionable initiatives with measurable results.

This white paper addresses ways community groups, businesses, philanthropies, economic developers, and governments can work together effectively to ensure that community goals and priorities are reflected in economic development practices. The topic is timely as governments and communities grapple with economic conditions that have left many residents struggling. This report offers a Determine-Design-Evaluate framework to help leaders consider how to adapt their economic development efforts so that more residents prosper.  

This report was commissioned by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Pew Charitable Trusts.

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