On March 24, 2006, the Western New England College School of Law and School of Business jointly hosted the First Annual Academic Conference sponsored by the Western New England College Law and Business Center for Advancing Entrepreneurship. The Conference capped a year of exciting developments at the Law and Business Center, which is the College's contribution to the entrepreneurship infrastructure in the greater Springfield, Massachusetts area. Economists have understood for some time that small businesses are an important engine of economic development and vitality. Across the United States, 25 million small businesses employ more than half the country's workers, create approximately 75 percent of the nation's new jobs, and provide more than half of the private sector's economic output. An important subset of the small business universe are businesses known as "microenterprises," that is, those employing fewer than five employees and requiring less than $35,000 in start-up funds. These small firms play an important role in economic development, especially in low- to moderate-income communities. Program results and research provide solid evidence that the benefits of a microenterprise program as part of a "welfare to work" strategy outweigh the risks and costs of such programs. There are approximately two million micro entrepreneurs in this country and many are in western Massachusetts.
29 W. New Eng. L. Rev. 1 (2006)