New Round Rock Chamber Strategy Focuses on Entrepreneurs

by: Nicole Barrios / Round Rock Leader

ROUND ROCK, TX – The Round Rock Chamber is rolling out its newest initiative to rev up the city’s business and entrepreneurship community.

Rev Up Round Rock is a community strategy aiming to strengthen and expand the current entrepreneur climate. Monica Maher, vice president of community enhancement for the chamber, presented the new plan at a Feb. 23 luncheon.

“This strategy represents the chamber’s commitment to local business owners and the work we will do to implement the strategy will be there to support you all as you work and grow and live in Round Rock,” she said.

Maher said entrepreneurs shape communities and help with job creation while improving and contributing to economic diversity. “(Entrepreneurs’) courageous willingness to take risks, bet big on their ideas and work hard in the face of challenges has led them to create jobs and generate wealth through their communities,” she said. Although Round Rock is already home to entrepreneurs, Maher said, “we can and we must do more.”

The nine-part strategy aims to enhance the advantages Round Rock has for entrepreneurs but also fill in any gaps in the “entrepreneur ecosystem,” she said. Before developing a strategy, the chamber partnered with students from Texas State University to analyze the landscape of the current entrepreneur environment.

A four-student team in the master of business administration program from the McCoy College of Business Administration conducted an analysis of the entrepreneur ecosystem in Round Rock and compared it to other cities with successful business communities, Maher said. The findings highlighted a need to increase awareness of support available to entrepreneurs in the community, Maher said.

Fostering an entrepreneurial environment

The first part of the strategy aims to position the chamber as the community’s entrepreneurship hub.

“The goal is for the chamber to be that key answer anytime that an entrepreneur says they need help or that they have a business idea,” Maher said. “We want to be that thread that connects all the entrepreneurship resources that we have in our community, because we have some great ones.”

Maher said, by the same token, chamber officials will aim to ensure that public policy decisions made at the local, state and federal level do not hinder entrepreneurs entering the market.

Round Rock’s proximity to Austin, a growing number of support resources and the city’s healthy business climate all make Round Rock a “burgeoning entrepreneurial locale,” she said. With that in mind, Maher said the chamber will create a promotional effort to share its success stories.

Maher noted a vast majority of the new startup companies happen in Austin and the city has created support resources for entrepreneurs.

“We believe that our geographical location to Austin allows the advantage of leveraging some of their resources so we’re not needing to recreate the wheel or build anything from scratch, but rather extending resources here,” Maher said.

The chamber will also make one-on-one advisory services available to help with startups and provide counsel throughout different phases of business development, Maher said.

Entrepreneurs in school

Maher said secondary education represents the most important phase of forming a person’s entrepreneurial success and prepare the next generation of business leaders.

The chamber wants to work with the Round Rock school district to explore the creation of an in-school course or afterschool program to “prepare students for life beyond the classroom,” she said.

The strategy also looks to promote entrepreneurship within higher education institutions like Texas State University.

“While many students dream of becoming the next creator of the next Facebook or the next Twitter — both of which were started by students — universities are focusing on the educational values that underlies the entrepreneurship training,” Maher said.

At Texas State’s main campus in San Marcos, students can utilize an established entrepreneurship center, startup programs, business competitions and entrepreneur boot camps. Maher said the chamber wants those same opportunities available at the university’s Round Rock campus.

A new program

The chamber will support establishing an “Entrepreneurship Round Rock” program for those outside of the secondary or higher education arenas. The program will guide entrepreneurs on their journey, Maher said.

At the end of the program, the graduation ceremony could include a competition or pitch components to investors, Maher said.

The final recommendation of the strategy looks to develop an entrepreneurship center in Round Rock once there is a need and when the entrepreneurship culture matures in the city, Maher said.

“It will take some time for Rev Up Round Rock to produce meaningful results,” Maher said. “However, once it does, Round Rock will continue to be one of the greatest cities in America.”

THE STRATEGY’S NINE RECOMMENDATIONS ARE TO:

• Position the Round Rock Chamber as the community’s entrepreneurship hub

• Promote Round Rock as a burgeoning entrepreneurial locale

• Encourage the development and expansion of entrepreneur support resources

• Ensure the availability of one-on-one advisory services

• Foster a more connected network of entrepreneurs

• Cultivate K-12 partnerships to foster entrepreneurship opportunities for students

• Promote entrepreneurship within higher education institutions

• Establish an Entrepreneurship Round Rock program

• Develop an entrepreneurship center