Great news. We won Amazon! And, at no cost to taxpayers.
I’m not thinking of HQ2. Not many are that detached from reality to believe we will get the nod from Bezos & Co. I’m thinking of how we made the list.
Let’s take pride and puff out our chest with the news that Rochester was recognized as having several essential ingredients to be a mecca for innovation and entrepreneurship. We have the brainpower. We have the size.
Now we have to work on the culture and mindset.
The HQ2 process is a catalyst for positive thinking and doing. I love seeing Buffalo and Rochester come together, think regionally and submit a joint proposal. Between our two communities—plus Syracuse and Ithaca—we have millions of hardworking, talented and well-educated people. With Rochester as the center, nothing is further than a 90-minute drive. Take that, big city, traffic-congested USA!
Already, we see grassroots initiatives, outside the confines of our economic development organizations. A new class of successful entrepreneurs is rising up – folks who aren’t wedded to the traditional boundaries that prevent free-flowing exchanges and collaboration. They have been gathering and planning ways to gain the attention of Amazon. They are wise enough to know that this initiative will pay off over the long-term and that it must be driven by successful entrepreneurs.
It is realistic over the next several years to have other great tech companies plant a flag here. Datto—a global provider of backup, disaster recovery and business continuity solutions—arrived a few years ago and now has five floors in the Metropolitan Tower in the heart of downtown.
The universities are collaborating in ways that were unfathomable not too long ago. Imagine UR and RIT pitching our engineering and research capabilities to the hottest Silicon Valley companies. Don’t be surprised. They are.
There’s something in our (plentiful) water – 180 years of world-class innovation and progressive social movements. All communities experience cycles. Growing up in NYC, I remember the bleak 1970s and early ‘80s. Our phoenix, too, is rising from the ashes.
Richard Glaser is co-creator of RocGrowth and RocGrowth Candids and Coffee events. He was recently presented with Upstate Venture Connect’s Community Catalyst award for organizing programs that bring together diverse startup ecosystem players.