AGAINST THE GRAIN: WHAT MOTIVATES ENTREPRENEURS TO LOCATE IN PENNSYLVANIA’S NON-METROPOLITAN CITIES AND BOROUGHS

Open Access
Author:
Fortunato, Michael William-Patrick
Graduate Program:
Community and Economic Development
Degree:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
January 30, 2008
Committee Members:
  • Diane K Mc Laughlin, Thesis Advisor
  • Theodore Roberts Alter, Thesis Advisor
Keywords:
  • micropolitan
  • location
  • motivation
  • entrepreneur
  • non-metropolitan
Abstract:
According to a recent report by the Brookings Institution, there is a widespread loss of small businesses from the Commonwealth’s older central business districts (CBD’s), as many formerly prosperous storefronts have been replaced by larger, suburban retail chains. This is especially true in the Commonwealth’s smaller cities and boroughs in non-metro counties (2003). Despite this negative trend, some new businesses still choose to locate in these declining areas. This research will examine what motivating factors led recent entrepreneurs to locate in these places. Motivating factors in the location decision will be analyzed for relevance to two competing models of rural small business growth, social ecology and individualism, to determine which model, if any, is more prevalent in these areas. These factors will then be analyzed to determine which, if any, also helped the small business to keep its doors open. A conceptual framework for the research is elaborated using these two approaches. This research is designed to assist development practitioners in designing better, more effective entrepreneurial and place-based attraction and retention strategies in non-metro cities and boroughs in Pennsylvania. The study is also intended to give the reader an overview of the historical and biographical context in which small business owners decide to locate in these cities and boroughs. An action plan containing suggestions for improved entrepreneurial development is proposed, as well as proposed directions for future research.