Hope for Downtrodden Communities


Your City is Not Doomed

Where is your city, town, or neighborhood at? Is it at a downturn in its economy? Has it seen better days? Do people talk more about its past than its present or future? The story of your community is not over yet.

Sure, there are ample communities that simply rolled up and ceased to exist … or washed away. Take Bayocean, Oregon for example. Built on a spit on the Pacific Ocean it literally began washing away into the ocean. As the community grew, and in order to make it more accessible by boat, a jetty was built to make for easier access into the bay. However, the jetty changed the pattern of currents which induced coastal erosion and soon houses and buildings began falling in the ocean. But that’s probably not the storyline of your community. There is still hope.

While we see and note larger cities today like Detroit struggling from economic downtowns there are also many others continuing to reinvent themselves to stay pliable and adaptable. It is of course easier to see this in smaller communities that transitioned from timber, mining, or fishing to now being outdoor adventure and tourism hotspots. But what big cities today do we see that have made a noticeable transition?

Seattle is a great example. From a depressed city in the face of a struggling economy in the 1980s to now a global leader in tech and innovation and home to Microsoft, Stabucks, and Amazon. All it takes is one business for your city.

It Only Takes One

One business. One startup. One idea. That’s all it takes to transform a city or town. If that sounds absurd and too good to be true then, like mentioned above, look at Seattle. What many people don’t know is that Microsoft was actually started in Albuquerque, New Mexico. However, just a couple years into it in the early 80s came the decision to relocate to Seattle. That lone decision has changed the course of history for Seattle. One business. One decision.

Microsoft is responsible for the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs in Seattle. For every tech worker there’s a reciprocal effect of the creation of 3-4 new jobs. From teachers to baristas there is a multiplier effect. This is also a tale of two cities. We can only surmise and creatively imagine what would’ve happened if Microsoft never left Albuquerque. Would that city then now have the same wealth and global reputation that Seattle enjoys now. Would that then have been enough for Amazon later on to move Albuquerque instead of Seattle? Microsoft and its former employees are also responsible for the creation of thousands of other tech companies as well.

The moral of the story? It truly does only take one. One business. One idea. One innovation. One visionary leader. Your city isn’t doomed. Your town isn’t doomed. The story isn’t over. It only takes one.

What Does Your Community Need?

Have you ever thought about that ... what does your city need? Where is your city or town at? How is its economy? What is lacking? What would help it move forward? Is it healthy? Is it languishing?

The larger the city the more complex and layered this conversation becomes. Scale it back to a small town and seemingly it can be easier to identify. If a small town is dependent upon one industry ... mining, timber, fishing, etc it is easier to spot what assets it has and what it might need going forward. There are countless inspirational stories of smaller communities turning around. Like I noted previously with the impact of Microsoft on Seattle, smaller communities are also drastically influenced by a single company or a clustering of like companies.

But we also see the volatility of the changing landscape of the global economy and how policies in Washington D.C. can impact a small town in the Midwest. A manufacturing company could be humming along then all of a sudden a new 25% tariff is slapped onto the Chinese parts crucial for this company. All of a sudden their profit margins decrease and they are laying off workers or even closing their doors. Thus the whole community is impacted. The goal is a diverse economy that can withstand these dips and spikes.

Before you write this all off … could you be the one? One idea. One startup. Hope for downtrodden communities.

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Written by Sean Benesh

Director of Intrepid