• Bob OBrien

Cities in Massachusetts Intrigued by Innovation Centers


There has been a great deal of interest in this concept recently, but unfortunately, few know how to actually execute the concept – that is not a ‘Just Do It’ undertaking. Large companies have tried – with a short leash tied to a marketing budget that can be shut down immediately – and have repeatedly done so; universities have endless budgets for equipment and buildings – but promising business start-ups have these concepts / ideas fed to sponsors for their own corporate use and financial benefits to the school; even engaging ideas like ‘maker spaces’ targeting community interests lack a sustainable business plan and have resulted in wasted state $$$ awards. Real estate costs are actually one of the major contributors to small business failure for many years across the US and still requires attention for small businesses to succeed.

This is not a sport for city planners with no private sector experience.

Key components needed to succeed are the leadership of an actual entrepreneur who is a bit crazy setting the course, a sustainable business model to ensure continuity of the business, a physical location that supports the business model with related key physical functionality, a well developed network of connections to identify and access target tenants, referrals from current tenants proving the prior track record, excellent communication skills to communicate the mission of the center, and persistence.

There are many moving parts that can also represent key contributors – the support and buy in from the local Mayor identifying the Center’s mission and a place in his / her plans, area elected officials creating community awareness, state agencies as potential $$$ funding sources correlated to the mission, local businesses willing to attract and work with other business, diverse marketing plans tapping multiple media and networks, and existing business connections that are constantly being expanded. At the end of the day………credibility and reliability are keys in attracting businesses betting their future success on your Center!


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