The Startup Mindset: Why a Downtown Business Association Creates the Right Model for Economic
The full story on the meeting is at the Mohawk Valley COmpass,Downtown businesses voice concerns, plan association.
I think this initiative by the downtown merchants illustrates a few key principles that I believe are important to jumpstarting the city as it’s my contention that this city, old as it is, needs to rethink of itself as a brand new startup to move forward:
1. Like a startup, the objective seems centered around solving a problem — how to support the viability and growth of downtown. As the article demonstrates, the problems are solvable assuming the stakeholders — the city, the merchants — commit to solving them. I see nothing that precludes addressing most of the issues raised. Let’s focus on solving problems versus constantly creating new problems or harping on problems no one really cares to solve.
2. In startup mode, you don’t have the luxury of kicking the can down the street — you need to make something work NOW. So it’s not good enough to wait, and wait, and wait, for public agencies or private agencies to do it for you. You have to figure it out yourself. What this initiative creates is pushback on the staid, do-nothing, fatalist attitude that so permeates the city. My hope is that efforts such as these intensify and multiply the pushback against the entrenched do-nothingness with its enmeshed wailing and gnashing on the state of the city.
3. In startup mode, you don’t have time or luxury of working with the wrong people or entities. You need to figure out who the right people are to make your startup succeed. Efforts such as these will quickly highlight who the right actors are and who the wrong actors are for economic development.
4. I expect membership in the association to be predominantly, if not exclusively, from private industry. I think it is about time that we hear the voice of entrepreneurs and business owners in the economic development of the city. It’s more than clear that the city needs fresh voices and new perspectives.
Let’s hope this mindset catches on downtown and elsewhere.