MALVERN, Pa. — Philadelphia has one of the largest local living economies in the United States: There are a lot of startups, mom and pop stores, and main street communities. But if Philadelphia provides such a receptive climate for new business, why is the poverty rate so high?
After noticing this disconnect in her city, Penn State Great Valley faculty member Barrie Litzky decided to examine the idea of entrepreneurship as a vehicle for reducing poverty. Working with colleagues from Towson and Temple universities, she co-authored "Social Entrepreneurs: the Conduit of Neo-Localism and Sustainable Urban Living." The paper is currently under review by the Journal of Ethics and Entrepreneurship.
Litzky and her colleagues discovered that business owners and entrepreneurs are the backbone of a local community. Their innovation and success is paramount to the region’s sustainability. This becomes particularly transformative when entrepreneurs work together; they can spark change, foster economic and social justice, and politically influence the region.
The result is powerful: People have a sense of place and feel part of something larger. And when those connected residents spend money at a small business, the profits stay within that local economy.
“Our findings confirm that business owners who see themselves as part of the community help to foster the types of relationships that influence the overall well-being of the community,” Litzky noted.
Litzky will present her research to the public at noon on Wednesday, Nov. 9, on the Penn State Great Valley campus. The event is free, but advance reservations are required. More information can be found on the Penn State Great Valley website.