My friend Stuart Mease from my hometown of Roanoke just blogged on this and I thought I'd do just the same. Inc. Magazine regularly highlights their Top 30 under 30 and likewise, BusinessWeek started its own Top 25 under 25 last year. These lists aren't a ranking of entrepreneurs by total sales volume or number of employees or even profitability but they fill a great void which is providing inspiration to young entrepreneurs and wannabe entrepreneurs of all ages. Entrepreneur magazine does a similar feature titled Young Millionaires. Why isn't this done on the regional level in every community? It's one thing to hear of a young entrepreneur on the other side of the country who is a great success but it's another to find one in your own backyard. They are everywhere, why don't we highlight them?
One of my true passions is promoting entrepreneurship on every level possible. The media needs to do its part. Every major newspaper in the country offers a ranking of the top local athletes (football, basketball, baseball, and even swimming and golf). For those of us who aren't blessed with becoming the next NBA or NFL star athlete (ie. the majority), why don't we promote regional entrepreneurs so their stories can be shared? Their stories need to be shared and their success needs to be studied and taught. One of my efforts next year will be promoting entrepreneurship and making it so mainstream that it is the hot thing - and any newspaper or television station which chooses not to highlight the positive stories in their communities will be doing their community a disservice.
Smaller communities across the country are struggling with retaining young people and too few are taking the steps necessary to fix this growing problem. There's so much that can be done. Let's face it, my generation is the future. We need to be highly trained and highly educated, and then we will become highly recruited - and not just by companies, but cities also.