Attention, candidates: Grassroots economic development by working closely with local entrepreneurs to learn how the city can help foster their ideas.

Utilizing assets like The Root.

Tonight Develop New Albany holds its annual Be Local Expo, a once yearly promotion of independent small businesses. Of course there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with this approach, although it falls well short of the everyday engagement required to build and nurture the independent small business community. An “expo” is a showy thing, and the incumbents can glad-hand in a convivial setting.

But there could be so much more.

ON THE AVENUES: Prom planning’s nice and all, but New Albany still needs an autonomous independent business alliance.

As long as our City Hall team prioritizes its own absolute iron-fisted political control, and refuses to consider small, sustainable efforts to support the expansion of entrepreneurial endeavors — “creating avenues to wealth creation at all levels of society,” as opposed to maximizing Gahanite campaign finance — we’ll continue to endure the pre-eminence of the prom planning committee, with predictably self-serving and tepid results.

The following podcast link offers a different scenario. Imagine if New Albany possessed fewer paid event coordinators and prom planners, and instead emphasized an “Ecosystem Builder” as described therein?

Isn’t our best alternative to the subsidized-from-above River Ridge employment model to contrast and complement it with a grassroots approach like this?

Economic development is far more than squeezing a few extra dollars from the city’s exhausted TIF lodes, showering outsiders with gifts underwritten by taxpayers, then waiting for incoming campaign contributions to close the circle. That’s not economic development. It’s a personality cult.

Better to make the most out of ourselves, right here where we live, by circulating more money locally and encouraging the social network-driven aspect of entrepreneurial activities. Cooperation creates the ecosystem, and the ecosystem fosters cooperation — and a boost for our sense of community.

Consider listening to the podcast and learning, especially if you’re mounting a campaign for local office. Perhaps the chief reason to #FlushTheClique, #DrainTheGahanSwamp and depose a few tired Democratic office holders is to get some fresh air into this civic room.

Theirs isn’t the only approach to advancing the local economy. It’s just the one with maximum benefit to them.

Why One City Hired an “Ecosystem Builder” to Support Entrepreneurs, by Jacob Moses (Strong Towns)

Want to better your community but don’t know where to start? Enter It’s the Little Things: a weekly Strong Towns podcast that gives you the wisdom and encouragement you need to take the small yet powerful actions that can make your city or town stronger.

It’s the Little Things features Strong Towns Community Builder Jacob Moses in conversation with various guests who have taken action in their own places and in their own ways.

For city officials desperate to create jobs, winning over a big corporation and convincing them to set up shop in your hometown may seem like the only option. Yet in the midst of this race to the bottom, city leaders often overlook the lower-hanging fruit right in their backyard: local entrepreneurs.

And when we say “local entrepreneurs,” we’re not just talking about the tech guy working on a new app alone in his basement or that one friend you have who left their 9-5 job to “go freelance.” Not all local entrepreneurship is so solitary, and it can take some surprising forms: the at-home baker who dreams of having her own storefront bakery downtown, the college student who wants to create a local startup. And they all have the potential to be job creators in your local economy.

Of course, a thriving startup community doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Support from city leaders is invaluable to help tap this potential.

That’s why in this episode, I chat with Skyler Yost, founding member of Strong Towns and Ecosystem Builder for the city of York, Pennsylvania (a pretty cool job title, I know). For the past two years, Skyler has worked closely with local entrepreneurs to learn how the city can help foster their ideas.

In this episode, you’ll learn how you can foster entrepreneurship in your community, including how to assess existing resources, how to create an ecosystem in which entrepreneurs are supporting one another, and most important, how fostering entrepreneurship makes your place stronger and more resilient.