Ignite Institute Hosts Local Living Economy Summit

DSC_0831“The real fuel of entrepreneurship is hope. Every day when you wake up you have another shot at it. Maybe today is the day. As long as there is hope, maybe people are willing to try.”

Those were the words of Jeff Hoffman, author and co-founder of and ColorJar, who delivered the luncheon keynote speech at the 2nd Annual Local Living Economy Summit, which took place on October 8 in the Mac Mahon Student Center at Saint Peter’s University.

Produced by Rising Tide Capital (RTC), with the support of the Local Economy Working Group (LEWG), the event was hosted by the Ignite Institute at Saint Peter’s University. Titled “Igniting Local Opportunities: From Ideas to Action,” the summit presented an opportunity for ideas to be shared on ways to support local entrepreneurial initiatives, which help to create new opportunities through workforce development and small business cluster-based growth.

Approximately 150 leaders from business, city government, philanthropic foundations, nonprofits, higher education and other stakeholders came together to discuss sustainable local economic development and influence local small business development policy.

“In order to harness all of our local entrepreneurial energy we brought together all local stakeholders—public and private sector leaders, business development organizations, the social sector and big, small and micro-businesses—to promote an ecosystem that can sustain the growth of all businesses. The issue at hand is not just growth for growth’s sake, but equitable growth that promotes human and community well-being at its core,” said Alfa Demmellash H ’10, co-founder and CEO of Rising Tide Capital.

Hoffman, among others, encouraged the audience to give back by mentoring entrepreneurs and helping them to achieve their dream. Entrepreneurs are often problem solvers and look to utilize local sources within a community, which can only strengthen its economic growth.

In fact, many local entrepreneurs, who are graduates of Rising Tide Capital’s program, were in attendance. Dessert was provided by The Chilltown Kitchen, photography and photos were provided by Reggy Stainfil Photography and Kris Van Nest from thislearning, and the caricatures decorating the room were done by local artist Akbar Beard.

Attendees participated in focus groups including “Investment Readiness Map for Local Entrepreneurs,” and heard from speakers such as Jersey City Mayor Steven M. Fulop; Judy Wicks, author and co-founder of Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE); Lawrence Hibbert, president and CTO of BCT Partners; Michele Massey, executive director, Jackson Hill Main Street SID; Mark Rigdon, executive director in the global philanthropy group of JP Morgan Chase & Co.; and Kim Zeuli, senior vice president and director of research and advisory practice for ICIC.

“The Local Living Economy Summit was such an amazing event to publicly launch the Ignite Institute of Saint Peter’s University,” said Mary Kate Naatus, Ph.D., assistant professor of business and acting director of the Ignite Institute at Saint Peter’s University. “Having so many leaders and so much passion in one room to brainstorm solutions to building stronger partnerships, a more sustainable community and entrepreneurial ecosystem was so inspiring. I am looking forward to taking action and bringing our ideas to reality over the next year and into the future.”

“My vision is for the Ignite Institute to play an active role in moving all of Jersey City forward, and to create a model for university-community partnerships in the area of local living economies and urban entrepreneurship,” Naatus added.

The Local Living Economy Summit will be hosted by the Ignite Institute at Saint Peter’s University for the next two years. To see the digital conversations that took place during the summit, check out the hashtags #LLESummit and #IgnitingAction. Follow the Ignite Institute on Twitter @ignitestpeters.