A couple of months back I blogged on here about a bill that at the time was making its way through the Indiana state senate – The “Young Entrepreneur Auction” Bill. The bill has excellent potential to help keep some of Indiana’s entrepreneurial college grads in this state. There is not really much to dislike about a program that can be implemented with almost zero fiscal impact, although with even a small budget behind it, the program could have been opened up to more than just entrepreneurs that are 3 years or less years removed from a state entrepreneurial studies curriculum. Still, it is a step in the right direction.
What puzzles me, though, is that nobody seems to know anything about it, despite having been signed into law by Governor Daniels in March. Small communities I have spoken with that are ACTIVELY offering incentive packages to startups know nothing about this bill. Representatives I spoke with from DevelopIndy had never heard of it. Tech incubators and accelerators had never heard of it either. In the social media age, how can this happen? I realize the bill is still relatively hot off the press, but maybe this speaks to a fundamental problem we have in this State. State government sticks to itself. Local governments stick to themselves. And for the most part, state and local governments are saving up incentive packages for the easy hit out of the park – the startups that are no longer startups – that give them the most press at the time they give an incentive package. Lets hope this bill gains some momentum and changes that.
Cities like Shelbyville get this, with their Intelliplex facility that is providing lease deals and actual capital to promising early stage tech startups that can meet certain workforce growth requirements over a span of time. How smart will Shelbyville look if TheTyros.com ends up being this area’s next Angie’s List? How smart would Indianapolis have looked had they jumped on white hot Slingshot SEO’s bandwagon 2 years ago? I am all for offering incentives to the Slingshots and ExactTargets of this state (they deserve it for sticking around) – but how many promising Indy metro area startups never make it because they don’t have enough funding / support?
Maybe larger cities like Indy feel they have way less to gain by supporting early stage startups. And maybe that is where private companies like Developer Town come into play. Who knows?
What do you think? If you can articulate a thought and not ramble like I just did – please leave a comment.