Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

How to attract a Millennial

The Millennial Generation comprises those who were born from 1980 to the early 2000s and now represents America’s young professionals who are graduating from college, getting their first and second jobs and buying homes. We’re now seeing where they want to live: downtown.

For the first time in decades, the population of American cities has grown at a faster rate than the suburbs. There is some speculation that this is a result of the recession, with urban dwellers remaining in place instead of moving to the suburbs with low and unpredictable home prices. Alternatively, there is evidence to suggest that the migration to the cities is more intentional for this generation.

Young professionals are now seeking different communities than the suburbs that their parents and grandparents had coveted for generations. Walkable, mixed-use communities are on the rise. A developer in Cleveland seized this trend and built one of the most desirable blocks in the entire city. Ten years ago, the Maron family bought up an entire block of the city where restaurants had gone out of business, retailers had failed, crime rates were high and there was little hope for residential use.

Here’s what it looks like now:

If You Build It, They Will Come: How Cleveland Lured Young Professionals Downtown

The block is thriving with outdoor seating, apartment buildings at capacity and successful retail. The project wasn’t immediately accepted by other entrepreneurs though; the Maron’s opened their own restaurants when others weren’t willing to take another chance on the neighborhood. By the time they opened a 224 unit apartment building on the block, the area was so popular that the building filled almost immediately.

Perhaps they’ve read The Creative Community Builder’s Handbook (by Tom Borrup).

The term creative community building describes efforts to weave multiple endeavors and professions into the never-ending work of building and rebuilding the social, civic, physical, economic and spiritual fabrics of communities. Creative community building engages the cultural and creative energies inherent in every person and every place.

Looking at the above picture of the block, it certainly seems like they’ve done that. This vibrant community in downtown Cleveland captures what many Millennials are looking for as they begin to live on their own. The area is walkable, there are residential options, dining and retail. It’s high-density, efficient land use with a markedly decreased rate of crime and it’s actually pretty cool.

Corporations Now Reporting Sustainability

While sustainability is usually associated with nonprofit organizations and government planning, corporations have begun to take sustainability seriously and are reporting their progress to their shareholders.

These Corporate Sustainability Reports (or CSRs) are popping up on the websites of major companies like Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Coca Cola, Nike, GE, UPS and Nokia. These reports can include data on carbon disclosures, emissions, water usage and challenges in implementing sustainable growth policies.

CSRs should be transparent and authentic, as they are telling their customers and stakeholders what they are doing to help people, the planet and the economy. Data should be measured comparatively and the corporation should provide a baseline for the statistics that they provide. Sections can include balancing short and long term profitability, management of economic and environmental issues, risks and opportunities.

If you’d like to read some real reports, here is a list from Triple Pundit that ranks the top 10 sustainability reports from the past year. Does your company produce a sustainability report? Will it in the future? Hopefully at least one of these answers is yes!

Not Just Another Day at the Office

Two heads are better than one. Right?

That’s part of the idea behind the Allentown Economic Development Corporation‘s Hive 4A project. Hive 4A, as it describes itself on their Facebook page “is an entrepreneurial development initiative of the Allentown Economic Development Corporation. It includes a hackerspace and a coworking space, sharing a building with a business incubation program.”

I spent this past Tuesday working at Hive, instead of in the CACLV building in Bethlehem (where RenewLV is located). The idea of coworking spaces is fairly new to me, so I was not sure what to expect walking in the door. Hive currently occupies a temporary space in the old Mack building at 905 Harrison in Allentown. The room is set up with several long tables, where people can sit, pull out a laptop, and work for the day. A more permanent coworking space is planned to be completed in the same building by around mid-May. There were a wide range of people working on this particular day—a neighborhood revitalization consultant, a web designer, a magazine writer, an economic development advocate, and a social media intern/smart growth supporter—all sharing the coworking space.  Every now and then, one person would ask for another’s opinion or advice (“I’m working on a few logos for this project, which do you prefer?”), while the occasional conversation would yield some interesting news or resources. For example, while talking briefly about RenewLV, one person introduced me to the Indie City Index, which examines independent retail vitality in metropolitan areas—research has shown that “independent retail produces local wealth by recirculating dollars within the community,” but that’s another discussion.

Hive also includes a Hacker space, basically an “open community lab” with workshops for hobbyists and product developers.

Coworking is a very neat concept, one which seems to be catching on. Lt. Governor of California Gavin Newsom of California made headlines this week by deciding to use a shared work space in San Francisco, rather than the more-expensive state office building where the lieutenant governor usually works. In addition to saving money, Newsom cites the benefits of the “entrepreneurial energy” in the shared space.

You can read more about the coworking space at the AEDC’s blog. For now, the space is open every Tuesday, with a 5-day-a-week setup coming soon. Give it a try this month!

Education, Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Nov 19 at Bridgeworks

In its landmark study on boosting Pennsylvania’s economic competitiveness (Back to Prosperity), the Brookings Institution highlighted the importance of providing educational opportunities that lay the groundwork for innovation and entrepreneurship. Creating a culture of entrepreneurship is key to helping revitalize older core communities in the Lehigh Valley and across Pennsylvania. Further, creating an economic culture in which new ideas and firms can flourish would help Pennsylvania reverse the “brain drain” that sees many younger, educated workers leave the state.

For RenewLV’s next brown-bag session, we’re pleased to be partnering with the Allentown Economic Development Corporation to hold a panel discussion on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and its importance for cultivating innovation, entrepreneurship and a vibrant regional economy. The expert panel includes:

Steve Melnick, Vice President of Entrepreneurial Development, Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation
Kelly Rosario, STEM Director, Allentown School District
Troy Thrash, Executive Director and CEO, DaVinci Science Center
Todd Watkins, Director, Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity & Innovation, Lehigh University

This session will feature brief presentations from each of the panelists, followed by time for Q&A and discussion.

Please join us on Friday, November 19, from 12:00 to 1:30pm at AEDC’s Bridgeworks Enterprise Center, 905 Harrison Street in Allentown. Please note that a light lunch will be provided, thanks to support provided by the Enterprise Zone Program of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

I hope to see you on the 19th at Bridgeworks. If you plan to attend, please RSVP by emailing sbliss@renewlv.org or calling 484-893-1060.

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