This past Sunday, June 24th, David Robinson, Buffalo News business writer, produced a piece titled “A place to launch the tech sector.” He tells a short story of Jordan Levy and his partner Ronald Schreiber. The two venture capitalists are looking for young individual willing to get a business started at a high tech incubator. They know that our best and brightest usually take their brains, ideas, and dreams elsewhere to achieve success. They hope to play a role in the brain drain. Most telling is their recognition of the real problem with business in Buffalo and the Niagara Region:
Too often, Levy said, those dreamers move on to other places, like New York City or Silicon Valley, where there’s already a thriving community of techies, lots of capital and the sense that this is the place to be.
Levy knows all about that. His son graduated from the University of Michigan last month. On Wednesday, he started a new job – in New York City.
“I want to stop this outflow of young people,” Levy said. “If we can create an ecosystem in Buffalo where, all of a sudden, there’s a tech community … then they can come here and they can see something good.”
Levy thinks part of it is cultural, a strong sense of conservatism that favors the safe over the risky. “We don’t have that infrastructure and the psyche of starting a business,” he said. “They say ‘I’ll just keep my job.’ “
This hold fast, don’t do anything, be overly cautious and question all new thought is really a plague. Since August of 2011 and associate and I talked to anyone and everyone we could find regarding doing something different to grow the local economy. We attend business forums, transportation meetings, spoke with managers, etc. In each case we found little or not enthusiasm. The worst was a rather overt expression that someone may be treading on their turf. To me that is the height of play it extremely safe conservative. Don’t play to win, play not to lose.
I can believe it though. I and an associate have spent the past 10 months trying to get tourism sold as a real source of long term jobs generation instead of a local business that feeds off the “drive-by” visitor on their way somewhere else. The locals just don’t see it and just don’t want to get involved. They are literally happy with what comes their way.
People see Niagara Falls and no one bothers to direct them to Fort Niagara, Fort George, Fort Erie, the Bi-National Wine Trails, The Shaw Festival, Historic Niagara-On-The-Lake, Historic Lewiston-Youngstown, Buffalo Erie Canal Harbor, the museums, the galleries, the festivals, the best fresh water fishing in North America, etc.
Renee Simonian a local travel packager went to New York State Development and the Niagara County Center for Business Development seeking assistance in bringing a steady flow of German Tourists to the area on 12 day guided tours. No one was interested, she is going it alone.
Edgar Ramirez has been bringing Spanish speaking European tourists to Niagara Falls from New York City for 30 years. They are typically on 1 day visits because nothing more is offered locally and no one is marketing their hotels, sites, and businesses targeting foreign airlines, travel agencies, and packagers.
Read the news listen to all the talk, and all you ever hear is marketing, marketing, marketing yet we continue not to market even though what we have is very marketable.