In revitalizing our downtowns, we’ve come to understand that we aren’t recruiting businesses, but instead recruiting talent. The businesses are born of the talent, come to the talent, and stay near the talent. Traditionally, we’re used to recruiting businesses. But in the revitalizing urban districts of the knowledge economy, we find ourselves in this cycle:
- Communities want businesses.
- Businesses want talent.
- Talent wants community.
So, to grow our knowledge economy, we should invest in making a community. We need to make it a village, a place where talent wants to be. We need to make it a place with nice urban infrastructure, green space, cultural activity, and other talent and potential.
Most importantly, we need to get talent involved in the process of revitalizing the downtown in the first place. This is the opportunity to both take advantage of the talent we have and to retain them, AND to leverage their networks in recruiting more talent.
One easy way to do this is to capitalize on the educational institutions among us. If we have a university in our town (or area), if we have a community college, if we have a k12 system, then we need to leverage these talented people to do the work of revitalizing our downtowns. We need to find ways to crowdsource the development of our community. This is the purpose behind our Aday Remus project.
The beauty of situation we face in bringing a thriving economy to our historic downtowns is this: The economy will be a knowledge economy driven by talent. The talent is in our educational institutions. Our educational institutions are already here in our community. It’s just about participation and buy-in!