Mayor Robert Crowell: Innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainability
November 22, 2015
Editor's note: The Nevada Appeal presented the Carson City Board of Supervisors, the mayor and city manager an opportunity for a column.
As was recently reported by the Nevada Appeal, by invitation from the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles, I, along with Supervisor Bonkowski and City Manager Marano, attended the 30th Annual International Mayors Conference in Israel (on our dime, of course). The topic of this year's conference was Smart Cities. It was a fascinating conference on many levels, but one of the takeaways I came back with was the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship in the development of the country of Israel. It's a way of life in Israel, promoted not only by its educational system but its government organizations and many private international companies as well.
In traveling to the various areas in Israel, I was constantly reminded of my conversations with Jeff Glass, who, through the efforts of the newEnetwork and the Adams Hub, is teaching entrepreneurship in our schools with the goal of creating a "culture of entrepreneurship" in our community. While I intellectually understood Jeff's goal, in Israel I was seeing it in practice.
Upon returning to Carson, I happened to come across a blog post by Jim Clifton, CEO of the Gallup organization, responding to the challenge: "The year is 2050. Write a letter to the people of 2015 describing what your city is like, and give them advice on the next 35 years."
In answering that question, Clifton concluded: "So as we look the horizon over the next 50 years, the playbook has to change. City leaders must place entrepreneurship at the heart of their economic and policy agenda. The old ways just won't work."
From that perspective, Israeli cities are moving in the right direction — looking to the future but mindful of the region's history in world development — not particularly unlike the concept embodied in Carson City's motto: "Proud of its Past, Confident in its Future."
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Carson City is blessed with many economic sectors such as manufacturing, health care, education, government, retail, tourism, restaurants, gaming and sports tourism. As the president of one company considering locating in Carson City related to me, Carson City has a diversified portfolio of economic sectors that provide a benefit not unlike that derived from a diversified investment portfolio. In turn, entrepreneurship, as a goal, applies without preference across the board to each of our economic sectors.
There are many definitions of entrepreneurship, but the one that seems most understandable and comprehensive comes from the Mayor of Albuquerque N.M., a city partnering with the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative founded by Gary Shoeniger to implement entrepreneurial techniques in city government: "The entrepreneurial mind-set shifts everyday thinking into a new framework, empowering people to recognize opportunity, to identify real problems, to creatively deploy solutions, and to accomplish extraordinary things, day-in-day-out. It fosters the creative and critical thinking, collaboration, communication, effective problem solving, and teamwork necessary to empower ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things." (Mindsetmemo.com).
When viewed in that context, Carson City has many examples of the successful deployment of that mind-set. Take, for example, Pets of the Homeless, started by Genevieve Frederick in 2008 as a one-person non-profit company which is now internationally known with a national reach in the area of helping in the care and feeding of pets owned by the homeless where no other source of help is available.
Or take the Carson Animal Services Initiative (CASI) which was formed to not only raise awareness of the need for a new animal shelter but to raise funds to accomplish that goal.
Indeed, another example is our own Chamber of Commerce — always looking for creative and collaborative ways to solve problems that affect the quality of life we enjoy in Carson City.
Not to be overlooked, our City Manager, through the Lean Six Sigma program, has started a "top down" effort that embodies the entrepreneurial spirit and mind-set within our city government.
The list goes on, of course, but what I learned in Israel is it takes the continued focus of committed leaders in both the private and public sectors to effectively implement and promote a sustained and thriving entrepreneurial spirit in 2050 can be looked back upon as a model for community sustainability.
Count me in.
Robert Crowell is mayor of Carson City. He can be reached at 775-283-7550 or firstname.lastname@example.org.