Possibility-seekers lead new economy
Imlay leaders hope to cultivate a culture of innovation
November 17, 2010IMLAY CITY — City officials last Tuesday (Nov. 9) introduced residents to a new plan to attract small-business entrepreneurs to the community.
The hour-long program at the city hall was presented by City Manager D. Wayne O'Neal, DDA Director Monica Irelan, Chamber of Commerce Director Kim Marrone and guest speaker Barb Falis PhD, an associate professor at Michigan State University.
The 25-30 people in attendance heard discussion about a new era of "possibilities" for those willing to embark on a new economic path.
Falis, who is working with Imlay City and eight other Michigan municipalities and townships on establishing new strategies for economic growth, said the future is in the hands of those willing to "make changes."
"The rules for success have changed," Falis told the audience of mostly business people and community leaders. "We have to find a new way.
|City Manager D. Wayne O’Neal discusses plan to create entrepreneurial opportunities in the city. photo by Tom Wearing.|
"We can no longer expect the government to fix things," she said. "We have to develop a new culture of entrepreneurs who are tolerant of risk and who welcome diversity."
O'Neal, Irelan and Marrone shared what they learned during recent trips to East Lansing and Ann Arbor, where they observed economic models for a "new economy."
Last month, the trio attended a "Creating Entrepreneurial Communi-
ties" boot camp at the Michigan State University Land Policy Institute in Lansing.
They were joined by community leaders from St. Ignace, Sturgis, Delta and Barry counties and others.
"We have the tools in our tool box," said O'Neal, "but we have to be innovative and think differently than we have before.
"Enthusiasm will be needed," he continued. "Forget the doom and gloom. Each of you has to develop your own individual network. We want Imlay City to become the kind of place where our children will want to stay."
Irelan said progress will be incremental and take time, but the seeds are already being sewn for future growth.
"We'll be forming subcommittees to meet once a month," said Irelan. "We're not asking for too much of a commitment at first — but enough to get us and keep us going."
"There's no silver bullet," Falis chimed in. "This is a longterm marathon. It's going to require community partnership and a succession of individuals to sustain the program for the long run. The core team will need help."
Falis stressed that the "town meeting" is the first step in a minimum three-year program to create and grow an entrepreneurial community.
"You can build on this," she said. "Begin to find and identify the possibility seekers, not the naysayers.
"Magic happens when people with ideas and energy come together. Everyone wants to be part of something that is new and exciting."
Any citizens wishing to join committees or participate in the entrepreneurial process may contact the Imlay City Hall at 724-2135 or the Chamber of Commerce at 724-1361.
Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.