This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

July 3, 2008 - libraries energize entrepreneurs

[This week I wanted to highlight the business development work of the library and its partners. Our "reporter" is Rochelle Logan, my wonderful Associate Director of Research and Collections.]

I recently attended the National Economic Gardening Conference in Steamboat Springs where participants from twenty states, Japan and Australia came together to discuss ways to support small businesses in their communities. The concept of Economic Gardening started in Littleton, Colorado some twenty years ago. In addition to attracting new business from outside your city or county and keeping them, Economic Gardening (EG) helps local entrepreneurs thrive and grow which brings more resources to the community.

"Economic Gardening is a great opportunity for smaller businesses. It provides access to resource channels that they might not be aware of or otherwise be difficult to engage." Christian Eppers, Manager of Economic Gardening, Chamber of Commerce at Highlands Ranch.

EG programs offer tools to the small business that only larger corporations can afford. Types of services EG programs can provide include market research, competitive intelligence, industry trends, marketing lists, and Website optimization.

Why would librarians be interested in Economic Gardening and helping small businesses in our communities? One of our goals at Douglas County Libraries (DCL) is to reach out to answer the community reference question. It’s a natural fit to partner with local economic development entities such as the Highlands Ranch / Douglas County EG program. I was asked to serve on their steering committee made up of representatives from Team Highlands Ranch. I enjoyed the excitement and resolve this group generated while planning the EG launch. More information about that program is available at www.highlandsranchchamber.org/

"We are extremely excited about the partnership we have with the Douglas County Library System and the Chamber's Economic Gardening program. Douglas County is very fortunate to have the Douglas County Library System as a resource. They continue to stay on the cutting edge." Steve Dyer, President Chamber of Commerce at Highlands Ranch

We also collaborate with Castle Rock Economic Development (CREDCO). They plan to launch their EG program shortly.

In addition to working with community EG offices, DCL started looking for resources that our librarians and local EG offices could use. As a result, we added new business databases to our inventory that can be accessed from the new www.douglascountylibraries.org. Click on Research Databases to access Reference USA, Small Business Resource Center, Demographics Now and much more.

To be successful, entrepreneurs need good information and help with business research. Trained professionals at our libraries know how to find resources to answer specific questions as well as offer programs to train small business owners on how to find the information for themselves. The new small business service at DCL is designed to work with business startups and other entrepreneurs who need help in building their business. To contact a business librarian send an email to bizlibs@dclibraries.org or call 303-791-READ.

Douglas County Libraries are well located in our communities and offer meeting space and study rooms that are heavily used by small businesses as a place to work quietly, talk to librarians and access our outstanding reference collections, both in print and online.

Clearly we have an opportunity to leverage the knowledge and build DCL’s role to support economic development initiatives. From what I learned at the National Economic Gardening Conference, DCL is once again on the cutting edge in offering this type of service and fostering partnerships with community business organizations.

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