19 thoughts on “Economic development: time for radical change

  1. Pingback: Why Rochester struggles to compete - Rochester BeaconRochester Beacon

  2. Very well said Richard. Our Western NY region has all the necessary elements to become a powerful economic engine except for the fact that we don’t think, work or act like a community with a commonality of interests.

    We have maintained our Silo’s out of community pride, without reference to the simple fact we compete for resources of all kinds versus cities that would engulf our borders of Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse.

    We build small uncompetitive airports with limited direct flight opportunities or competing rates when a major airport between Rochester and Buffalo would only add 30 minutes to the drive.

    We all need to begin to work together on regional approaches to business development.

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  4. Richard, thank you for the thought provoking article. I travel a bit for work and see some interesting places but with the exception of big metros like NYC or the Bay Area I don’t feel that any peer group city has been fundamentally dealt a better hand than Rochester – they have in some cases just done a better job capitalizing on their strengths and minimizing the negative impact of their weaknesses. We have some great assets that with some care and feeding could put us on par with Austin or Nashville. I’d love to see more collaboration among our small business community to help achieve this and would gladly raise my hand to help.

  5. What doesn’t get talked about enough is what all sectors that Richard mentioned could have in common. Striving to be a more Conscious Company. This may have been radical thinking and still may be to the old guard, but the change has been building for a long time. And now the hum has become a roar, spurred on by the thousands – maybe millions – of people who have seen the true price of “profits at all costs” and said, “Enough! We want something more in life, in business, in companies, in work, in the world. We want meaning. Purpose. Joy. Of course money mat­ters. But money isn’t everything. We know there can be more.”
    I and many others locally are con­fident this isn’t just a fringe move­ment or an idealistic trend. This shift is real, permanent, and growing. It’s driven partly by the demands, needs, and values of the not only the Millennial generation but also by Baby Boomers starting to wonder seriously about their legacy and by Generation X, which found that the singular pursuit of profit didn’t lead to a promised land. Thank goodness. Because this shift is our planet’s best hope.
    Read the 2019 YPO Global Leadership Survey just published. 93% of business leaders agree that the purpose of business is to have an impact on society, beyond the pursuit of profit. 74% responded that their perspectives toward the role in business have largely changed in the last 5 years. Move over Beetthoven!
    I am also confident that the BCR report will have no mention of this and there lies the economic development opportunity…declare that a crucial element of our community’s uniqueness is we are striving to be a Center for Conscious Companies, profit and non-for-profit.

  6. Thanks Richard for your articulate, cogent suggestions. You speak not only “truth to power” but truth for all of us who are committed and grateful citizens of this community to think about and use to spur action.I think of Mayor Warren’s description of our community as “program rich and results poor”. We need to use the reality you expose to drive us to action so that the mayor’s words will no longer be an accurate description of our great community.

  7. Richard, I think you already know that I wholeheartedly agree with your points. Coming from the SF Bay Area 15 years ago, I am still amazed at the great software/high-tech companies that form, like CloudCheckr and iCardiac, and growth of companies like Mindex and Innovative Solutions, given the limited efforts to drive additional high-tech business in the area and foster a workforce that supports that. A “software czar” or whatever it is called is a great idea, and as Martin said, long overdue.

    I also believe the ability to make growth work by also focusing on pulling-up the underserved in our community is critical. Let the innovation that is available in abundance in our community drive additional innovation in this area. Efforts like the Systems Integration Project lead by the United Way are a great start to this.

  8. What I don’t hear from the “business community” is any acknowledgement of the small business, particularly retail trade (e. g., corner store owners or franchisees of various food or 7-11 type stores; independent store owners (there is more retail business on Clinton Ave. or Hudson Ave. than in all of the “downtown” area).
    As someone who per-Diem taught in the City School District for 35 years (retired now) Mayoral control is really not the answer. A significant increase in K-12 academic achievement can be achieved if the parent, parents, or guardians of students were taught valid methods of how to encourage their children to succeed in school. This might mean making certain the parent, parents, or guardians know how to read.
    The RCSD Board and Administrators make many rules but rarely are consistent in applying those rules.
    Obviously suburban children are succeeding. The trick is to transfer the reason why suburban children succeed to RCSD students, the answer is neither charter schools nor Mayoral control.

    • You’re definitely correct that the rcsd failure has to be addressed. What are your ideas for an action plan? Who is accountable?

  9. Mr. Glaser’s comments are heartening to hear from a local business leader. One way we can work as a team is to re-design COMIDA so that it stops inter-community competition. Moving development from one community to another is not a recipe for success. Also, new development sites should be situated within a 45 minute commute from disadvantaged neighborhoods, either by locating along existing high-frequency routes, or by supplementing existing public transit to achieve the same.

    • Maybe we should just put COMIDA out of business. BTW, it has been rechristened Imagine Rochester. Has it demostrated any meaningful success? Who are they accountable to? They often get ensnared in controversy due to a lack of transparency and conflicts of interest.

  10. I think the idea of a ‘software czar’ (though I’m not crazy about that term) is long overdue. The tradition business and economic development people in this town seem to have little understanding of how vibrant our homegrown software company eco-system has become, in spite of their being little community awareness (beyond the excellent efforts of RocGrowth). Over the past ten years I have worked with many of these companies as a senior marketing member of the management team. There has been very little material support for successful local startups in software while companies that relocate here are cheered on (as they should be!). Consider that CaterTrax, CloudCheckr, Jorsek, and iCardiac have created hundreds of professional level jobs, just as our transplants have. I have worked for three of these companies and with the founder of CloudCheckr at another of his successful startups. Two of the four have had successful acquisitions that did not result in their leaving our area. The other two have either raised money or are revenue positive on their own.

    • Are you ready to rejoin the revolution? This goes back to Digital Rochester. I’m making this go viral in the right corridors.
      let me know if you want to grab a drink or cocktail sometime soon. I always benefit from your insights.

  11. Bravo Richard. You are definitely getting at some of the major structural economic and political problems that exist here – especially in light of giving new, young talent a place at the table, soliciting their ideas, and including them in the implementation. They are the future leaders of this community. If we are not inclusive of all our diversity, solutions will remain “stuck” in our illustrious past. These old solutions, based on different social and economic realities, simply will not work in the future.

    We also must be ready (and willing) to accept and encourage new paradigms. One of these might be the creation of a more municipal government structure in Monroe County – including both the City and the suburbs into a stronger Great Rochester – able to fully educate all its citizens and provide new opportunities for the sharing of wealth and opportunity. Carry on!

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