Entrepreneurs Beating the Odds

by March 25, 2010

A number of areas within the Commonwealth have experienced firm closures, job losses and the resulting social dislocations. The public knows, broadly, about these trends. Less recognized is the reality that within these communities, a cadre of entrepreneurs has built stable, even thriving firms often overlooked by outsiders who can’t see past the general sluggishness of the communities these firms call home. That’s about to change.

The Tayloe Murphy Resilience Awards Competition is designed to bring attention, recognition and support to entrepreneurial firms that have shown sustained economic vitality, high employment and which provide some measure of uplift to their own communities, while operating in the Commonwealth’s most economically challenged areas.

“We’re going to be focused on what actually leads to sustainable economic and social change,” said Gregory B. Fairchild, Executive Director of the Tayloe Murphy Center since July 2009, and Associate Professor of Business Administration at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.

Under Fairchild’s leadership, the Tayloe Murphy Center plans to help reshape challenged communities within the Commonwealth into success stories. Fairchild, who teaches entrepreneurial thinking and business ethics at Darden, believes communities can be and should be grown with local, indigenous talent.

To that end and with Fairchild’s guidance, Tayloe Murphy Center staff will reach out to select communities within the Commonwealth, communities defined by slow growth and marked by economic hardship, but which, with Tayloe Murphy Center support – education, leadership, alliances and resources – will be encouraged to reach towards reinvention.

Because Fairchild’s interest is in building futures, he and his staff will be working with community leaders across Virginia to unearth and develop the local talent who will be able to facilitate change. In addition, the Tayloe Murphy Center will initiate research studies that focus on issues of community development within the Commonwealth.

While these initiatives will take time to blossom, the Tayloe Murphy Resilience Awards Competition represents the Center’s most immediate contribution to Virginia’s economic development.

The Resilience Award winner will receive a week-long scholarship to one of Darden’s Executive Education programs and, with staff assistance, will select the program offering that most suits the current growth needs of the winner’s firm. The winning firm’s best practices will also serve as a model that will help others follow in its footsteps.

The Award ceremony will be held in the Dome Room of the University of Virginia’s historic Rotunda on September 1, 2010. The contest opens April 1 and all applications must be submitted by June 30, 2010.

Competition applications will be available at resilienceaward.info on April 1, 2010.

The Tayloe Murphy Center was conceived in 1962 with an anonymous million dollar gift to the University of Virginia in honor of Mr. W. Tayloe Murphy Sr., State Treasurer for Virginia from 1942 – 1947, and a long-standing member of Virginia’s House of Delegates. The Center’s mission, broadly, is to foster economic growth within the Commonwealth of Virginia, as its namesake did.

Founded in 1955, the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business improves society by developing principled leaders in the world of practical affairs.

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