Growing Our Own: Communities That Sustain Entrepeneurs

Final Report for EW01-016

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2001: $52,483.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2002
Region: Western
State: Montana
Principal Investigator:
Richard Williams
Montana State University Extension Service
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Project Information

Abstract:

Sirolli Enterprise Facilitation Training is a bottom-up, person-centered, community-implemented method of entrepreneurial development that has helped thousands of entrepreneurs make better decisions, including farmers and ranchers. The “Growing Our Own” Project provided training to 60 participants in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. Participants included an agricultural producer with an idea for a new business or an expansion or diversification; professional agricultural advisors and several community leaders. The three training sessions (Helena, Montana; Clarkston, Washington; and Portland, Oregon) were held during the winter of 2001-2002 with a followup conference in Baker, Oregon, in October, 2002, attended by 19 participants. Although not yet implemented, the training had a major influence on beliefs and behaviors of participants and several have taken steps toward community commitment.

Project Objectives:
  • Demonstrate and introduce a proven, simple, ethical, person-centered, grassroots philosophy and practice of fostering/nurturing entrepreneurs to interested professional agricultural advisors, entrepreneurial producers and community leaders.
    Build positive, collaborative and synergistic relationships between professional agricultural advisors, civic leaders, and producers committed to enhancing environmental quality and stewardship, as well as the economic and social vitality and resiliency of their communities.
    Build capacity of rural communities to create sound, profitable and viable businesses in all sectors of agriculture, and to take responsibility for the future of their own local economies.
    Promote rural community stability and self-sufficiency by increasing income, diversification, quality of life (personal fulfillment) and employment opportunities.
Introduction:

Sirolli Enterprise Facilitation Training is a bottom-up, person-centered, community-implemented method of entrepreneurial development has helped thousands of entrepreneurs make better decisions, including farmers and ranchers.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Peter Donovan
  • Larry Lev
  • Neil & Mary Meyer & Emery
  • Don Nelson
  • Stephanie Rittman
  • Ernesto Sirolli
  • Gordon Zimmerman

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Objective:
Description:

Methods

Three training sessions (Helena, Montana; Clarkston, Washington; and Portland, Oregon) were held during the winter of 2001-2002. The first two days of training covered the philosophy and background of the Sirolli method and the behaviors of an Enterprise Facilitator. The third and fourth days were devoted to the practice of facilitation, using real entrepreneurs. The fifth day was debriefing and review. A follow-up conference was held in Baker, Oregon, in October 2002, that was limited to alumni of the earlier conferences.

Outreach and Publications

Although no publications are expected as a result of this training, a strong potential exists for community outreach and future economic development.

Outcomes and impacts:

The training had a major influence on the beliefs and behaviors of participants in regard to entrepreneurship, management, and the role of communities in creating a favorable environment for business to succeed. At the follow-up workshop, advice was provided on implementing community projects and included an extensive handout. Most participants joined an electronic listserv.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

As a result of the Sirolli training sessions, three facilitation groups have been organized; one in Montana and two in other states. They have hired facilitators for community involvement for thirty month periods, in accordance with the Sirolli plan.

Recommendations:

Potential Contributions

The potential exists for bottom-up economic development opportunities to build relationships in communities to promote stability and self-sufficiency by increasing income, diversification, quality of life (personal fulfillment) and employment opportunities.

Future Recommendations

  1. 1. Teams should arrive at the training sessions with an identified project for their community – then after the training, apply the principles they learned in the community as they assist entrepreuners.
    2. After receiving training, teams should have follow-up reports as to the effectiveness of each segment of the training, i.e., acceptance and involvement of the community, what are the actual outcomes or impacts.
    3. The training session should include a section on the “social action process” that takes place within communities as new ideas or concepts are introduced.
    4. There should be an independent evaluator for any facilitation group that is organized to determine the impacts during a thirty month period of applying the Sirolli concepts and practices.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.