Advancing the
Ecosystem Building
Field of Practice

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 The Ecosystem Building Leadership Project    is an initiative to collaboratively design, create, and validate a formal entity or shared infrastructure whose purpose is to provide leadership for the advancement of the entrepreneurship ecosystem building field of practice. Past ESHIP Summits and other inputs have made clear the need for more coordinated and centralized efforts to build field-wide infrastructure that will help accelerate wider understanding and adoption of ecosystem building as a practice in economic, community, workforce and entrepreneurship development in the United States.


The origin of the Ecosystem Building Leadership Project (EBLP) stems from the great work of 1500+ participants of the ESHIP Summits hosted by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Over the course of three years and four Summits, ecosystem builders from all 50 U.S. States, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and 20 other countries gathered to join collective efforts to explore and progress the entrepreneurship ecosystem building field of practice.

Launched in 2017, the ESHIP Summit was a three-year initiative (2017-2020), designed to accelerate the adoption of ecosystem building as a new approach to entrepreneurship support and economic development. By bringing together builders of entrepreneurship ecosystems, the program was designed to take a community-driven approach to accelerate the emerging field of entrepreneurship ecosystem building. By working collaboratively across many organizations they aimed to create tools, resources, and knowledge to better support communities that are working to empower entrepreneurs.

Provisional Council

Dara Macan 
National Director Partnerships & Engagement at SourceLink 

Enoch Elwell
Founder & Board Chair at CO.STARTERS

Tarsha Hearns
Senior Director of Ecosystems at Dallas Entrepreneur Center 

Julie Heath 
VP Entrepreneurial Ecosystems at Indiana Economic Development Corporation

Project Support Team
(January 2022 - October 2022)

Charles Ross
Host & Co-Chair

Dell Gines

Kristin Leutz

Beth Zimmer
Project Lead

Charlton Cunningham
Communications Lead

Lindsay Schuenke
Coordination Lead
This community of entrepreneurship ecosystem builders and the people who support them contributed to the development of The ESHIP Goals; a proposed set of collective objectives to further fortify the entrepreneurship ecosystem building field. The solutions to the ESHIP Goals are meant to serve as tenets to the field, and the goals themselves a checklist to help prioritize, organize, collaborate and create consensus, as we work together to improve the effectiveness of our emerging field as a whole, and as a result, the effectiveness of individual ecosystem builders everywhere.

Through this work to advance entrepreneurship ecosystem building as a practice, the need has been identified for a field-wide infrastructure (much of which is captured in the ESHIP Goals) that will centralize coordinated actions in service to the field. This will further accelerate wider understanding and adoption of ecosystem building as a practice in economic, community, workforce and entrepreneurship development in the United States. Thus, the Ecosystem Building Leadership Project launched.
Tiffany Henry
Instructional Designer, Office of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Arkansas Tech University (Network Health)

Fay Horwitt
President & CEO at Forward Cities

Pava LaPere
Co-Founder & CEO at EcoMap (Sustainability)

Charles Ross
President & CEO at International Business Innovation Association

Beth Zimmer 
Project Manager at Ecosystem Building Leadership Project
Jennifer Hunter

Jason Barnes

Ed Morrison

Scott Hutcheson

Dr. Brint Milward
Facilitator, Research

Collaborative Advisory Group

e2 Entrepreneurial Ecosystems 
Don Macke
Opportunity HUB 
Rodney Sampson
Forward Cities
Fay Horwitt 
Melissa Bradley
Black Innovation Alliance 
Kelly Burton
Rob Williams
Krista Covey
Becky Corbin 
Startup Champions Network
Tom Chapman 
Enoch Elwell 
Mark Lawrence 
Urban Manufacturing Alliance
Katy Stanton 
Angel Capital Association 
Pat Gouhin 
Comena 66 
Denisse Rodriquez 
Black Female Founders 
Erin Horne McKinney 
UF Innovate | Accelerate @ The Hub & Sid Martin BioTech
Karl LaPan
Aspen Institute's Latinos in Society City Learning & Action Lab 
Alejandro Manzanares 
Augusto Sanabria
4th Economy 
Rich Overmoyer 

National League of Cities 
Corianne Rice 

Community Development Venture Capital Alliance
Kerwin Tesdell 

Rural Rise 
Tina Metzer 

Andres Wydler

Jim Woodell & Co
Jim Woodell

University Economic Development Association 
Margo Fliss 

International Economic Development Council 
Nathan Ohle 

Global Accelerator Network 
Patrick Riley 
Entrepreneurship Funders Network
Ifeoma Aduba

GET Cities at Second Muse Foundation 
Leslie Smith 

Roanhorse Consulting
Vanessa Roanhorse

National Urban League 
Stephanie Devane 

Jen Consalvo & Frank Gruber 

NRP Relations 
Christine Lai 

Value Web 
Mike Fleisch 

U.S. Small Business Administration 
Jennifer Shieh 

Institute for Work & the Economy 
Peter Creticos 

Get Involved

Learn how you can participate in this project to contribute your ideas and expertise to help accelerate the advancement of the professional field of practice.

Field Survey

The Field Assessment Survey is crucial in helping us to understand the current needs, challenges, and aspirations from the field in order to inform the project's design. Information from this survey will help us to identify what is collectively needed to enable the success of the project.

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