Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


STEM Education & Professional Studies


Occupational and Technical Studies

Committee Director

Cynthia Tomovic

Committee Director

Darryl C. Draper

Committee Member

Dana D. Burnett


Small business success drives the health of a local economy. The problem of this three phase mixed methods study was to encourage entrepreneurship by identifying the resources that support business startup and growth. In the first qualitative phase, the city business resource webpage was observed and 10 entrepreneurs were interviewed to identify which business resources were used for their recent startups. Using the data from the interviews, a survey instrument was developed for the Small Business Subcommittee (SBS) that was used in the second quantitative phase which included 351 business owners; 35% were women and 65% were men. The sample represented small businesses of varying sizes and industries including construction trades, professional services, retail, manufacturing, food service, personal service, and healthcare/biotechnology. Ethnicity of the sample population mirrored the ethnicity of the city population. The Small Business Survey included 17 Likert-style and 2 open ended questions. Descriptive statistics were used to report the findings and the open ended questions were reviewed and coded by the researcher and the SBS. Exploratory factor analysis was performed on 12 items to validate the survey instrument. The data were used to develop a protocol for the third qualitative phase of the study and thirteen entrepreneurs who had used public business resources were interviewed. Three researchers coded the data to provide interrater reliability. Themes were clustered and a model for small business startup and growth was developed. The results indicated that the city could improve business growth by providing information for startups, creating a streamlined process, developing an attitude that supports small business owners, offering more training opportunities, and initiating supporting services.


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