Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 13 of 13

Thread: Recruiting Businesses to a Blue Collar Community

  1. #1

    Recruiting Businesses to a Blue Collar Community

    Help! I'm running out of ideas! We're trying to recruit businesses to our downtown historic district which is located in a blue collar community. Does anyone have any ideas on ways to get passed the "you're not in our demographics" mentality? Know of any companies willing to take a "risk"? Thanks!

  2. #2

    Registered
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Buffalo, New York
    Posts
    3
    I observe that the greatest obstacle to small business startup in the urban environment is the "security" issue. Does the nascent shopkeeper feel that he/she must hire a rent-a-cop in order to be comfortable? A guard adds somewhere between $100 to $200 a day to overhead. Do you suppose that a shopkeeper in your "blue-collar 'hood would need a guard?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 1998
    Location
    Greensburg, Kansas
    Posts
    2,947
    In one town I worked, all the traffic counts pointed to a certain strip as the place to be. But without a bypass, much of that was through traffic (trucks). A fast food location marketer came by and I pointed out that over half the population passed another available site to get to the strip. Against his and corporate "better judgment", he developed on the site I suggested, and it became the best sales spot in his region. And I able to help forestall overdevelopment on one side of town (for a while).

    Point is, study the demographics and other numbers that marketers use; point out the potential flaws; and get the word out.

  4. #4

    Registered
    May 1997
    Location
    Williston, VT
    Posts
    1,371

    Entrepreneurs

    Not much in the way of real economic development is going happen in most communities unless it comes from within. Are you working with your healthier existing businesses toward expansion? Are you training folks to be entrepreneurs and providing business incubator space and services? Are you working on your image? Given the evolution of the economy, "blue collar" is about the past (and its good to be proud of that past), but its not about the future … You may need a new way to describe yourselves.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    South Milwaukee
    Posts
    8,935
    Lee Nellis is right - I was at a National Development Council seminar a few years back and I recall the statistic being something like 80% of all new / expanded businessed come locally, and 20% are from recruitment or relocations. Your best bet is to play to your strengths and incubate the ancillary businesses that thrive on the "blue collar" town's needs.

  6. #6
    amylea, do you work for the city of Akron? I think if you're trying to downplay the "blue-collar" mentality, I would definitely do as Lee Nellis and bturk have suggested. Also, are you looking for specific industries or businesses? I'm going to give some suggestions but I can only speak from my professional perspective as a graphic designer.

    For example, if you're trying to attract, say a ad agency/design studio - I would strongly play up the upcoming expansion of the art museum. I would strongly play up the "trendinista" restaurants near Canal Park. I would mention the educational opportunities within walking distance (Akron U).

    The worst mistake I see some development groups doing is giving the same cookie-cutter presentation, no matter who is on the receiving end. For example, if I was considering opening a design business in Cleveland, showing me the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Jacobs Field is wasting my time. Showing me a renovated warehouse with offices featuring technological amenities (high speed internet connections, etc.) that's located in walking distance to a variety of restaurants is going to get my attention.

    Another thing to play up is the area's affordability and easy access to other areas.

    But perhaps most importantly - stop calling yourself (i.e. the area in which you live and work) "blue collar". Eliminate that phrase from your vocabulary, at least in the present tense.

    Akron has neighborhoods like Highland Square, the Merriman Valley, and North Hill; restaurants like Ken Stewarts and Piatto; and nightlife on South Main and elsewhere. Akron has so much more to offer than the stereotypical "blue collar" lifestyle but people will never see that as long as we continue to dwell on it. Yes, be proud of our work ethic and our history, but let's move on.

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Delmarva
    Posts
    123

    downtown as an island

    Small wonder you're frustrated. I looked up your downtown zipcode in the Claritis profiles (see the thread You Are Where You LIve under the Cyburbia Communities forum Cities and Places) and the words low income keep coming up. But that isn't true for the region surrounding downtown is it? Either you need your own marketing study to refute the stock statistics or you need to change the environment before attracting the businesses.

    Following up on clevelandSKY's comments, the thing thing that may be helping downtown Cleveland is housing. No one wanted to pay downtown rents for retail businesses that would only draw customers from 9 to 5 on weekdays. And the example of "artistic" shops, they wouldn't pay the price if there wasn't the cachet of being in a fashionable part of town.

    Development should be wholistic. Instead of just looking at vacancy rates and access to major roadways, what else would sweeten the pot? Everyone wants a destination, not just a location.

    SKY mentions some restaurant and cultural ammenities -- who and where do they draw from? Cultivating prospects among businesses that reach a similar demographic could be one strategy.
    Last edited by adaptor; 22 Mar 2002 at 3:16 PM.

  8. #8

    Registered
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Solano County, California
    Posts
    6,468

    Blue Collar

    Isn't it sad that "BLUE COLLAR" is seen as such a perjorative. Here in the heart of the imaginary "New Economy" (Northern California), people make fun of me when I wonder out loud how healthy it is for a country to import ALL of the actual physical goods and products used by residents and industry. Maybe its just the ex-Midwesterner in me, but I'm skeptical about the yuppie economy of law firms and advertising agencies and software programmers coding unnecessary updates to spreadsheet and game programs. Oh well, call me a fossil staring at the rain.

    On a serious note, given the "trend" toward authenticity (how can there be a "trend toward authenticity"? but anyway), maybe you should really play up the historic industrial background of Akron? Rather than chasing boutiques and fancy restaurants for the 10% of the population that can or chooses to afford them, look for small, creative workshops, research firms, etc, building upon what I understand Akron has successfully already been doing with polymer research. Ignore those who talk about the joys of tourism-it pays miserably for most and doesn't do much for most towns.

    Oh well, that's my rant for the day. I was bored, can't find a file I need for work, and decided to briefly surf.

  9. #9
    Don't get me wrong, my upbringing was blue collar all the way - the work ethic, the "down to earth" mentality, etc. are all selling points in their own way.

    But - when Akron's own citizens refer to Akron as a "blue collar town", they completely discredit the amenities I referred to in my first post. It also alienates anyone who might consider Akron but is skeptical because heaven forbid they prefer a Merlot over a Michelob (just trying to find a simple way to illustrate it). What about Akron's health care industries - do you think they like to hear that "Akron's just a blue-collar town" with the implication that that's the only thing Akron has to offer?

    I'm not suggesting that Akron tries to establish itself as an ultra-chic destination - it never will be, thank heavens. But civic leaders, CVBs, etc. are kidding themselves if they think showing a aseball stadium is going to bowl over prospective businesses and residents. People want to know if they can find a livable area, with amenities they would use daily (i.e. if someone was looking for a more upscale environ, point out Highland Square and its proximity to West Point Market (a hi-end grocer), coffeeshops, nightclubs, etc. These are things people will use every day - they won't be spending every single day at the ballgame.

    Also - it's inaccurate to say that only 10% of the populace can afford the things I mentioned. As Akron's cost of living is startlingly low, you can live very well on a rather modest income. Believe me, I speak from personal experience.

    I agree, it's dangerous for a country to entirely depend on imports but I would be more skeptical about putting my city's hope in industries that have historically fled to areas with cheaper (i.e. more easily exploited) labor. The "yuppie jobs" may not have the "cachet" attached with them, but they tend to pay more and have a little more longevity. I wish the blue-collar jobs were so fortunate.

  10. #10

    Registered
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Solano County, California
    Posts
    6,468
    ClevelandSky:

    I understand what your saying, and if I'm honest, I too look for the kind of stuff you mention. Maybe its just this ex-midwestern guy pining for a day that'll never return. I mean, the reality is that manufacturing is going to Mainland China (heck, Taiwan's Acer is shipping ITS manufacturing to China now!). I just hope Akron doesn't turn its back completely on its roots, thats all .

    Its sunny today, so I can be less grumpy about it!

  11. #11

    Registered
    May 1997
    Location
    Williston, VT
    Posts
    1,371
    My experience and observations lead me to believe that if Akron, or any other community, wants a future in which people still make things, they will work hard on the amenities and image. The big corporations are not coming back until wage levels reach equilibrium with the Third World. And who wants them back anyway? It shouldn't take another Enron for us to realize that there is certain scale beyond which enterprises can't grow without attempting to be free of all moral or legal restraint.

    There are lots of skilled Americans who want to make things -- baskets, ceramics, furniture, various metal products -- and who are doing it at a scale that works for them. At home or in very small businesses. That type of entrepreneurship is where a positive future lies (there is also a future in which our wage levels and environmental controls equalize with the Third World, but I try not to think about that one). And if you want to attract people who have taken hold of their own life and are building their own business, you have to have good schools, parks, trails, etc., etc. It isn't worth the risk without the reward of a "good life."

  12. #12

    Registered
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Solano County, California
    Posts
    6,468
    Excellent point, Lee. There is no point in wanting the big guys to come back.

    I was reading the other day that many of the third tier cities were trying to attract unskilled jobs through "call centers" and other back offices for large companies. Unfortunately, these companies can pay people in India with college educations less money than the $6.00 per hour they would pay someone in Tulare, CA (or Wilkes-Barre, PA, for that matter) to do the same job.

  13. #13
    It's been a while since I checked the Cyburbia Forums and I see I created quite a discussion. My intention in using the term "blue collar" was merely to better describe the community for people who were going to reply to this post. I probably would have been better served to briefly describe the demographics of Barberton, however I personally do not feel the term is derogatory in nature. Barberton is a city that was once dubbed "the magic city" due to it's population growth in the early-mid 1900's. Since 1960 the populations has been decreasing and in the 1990 census the population stood at 27,000 people with a median income of approximately $21,000. This fact has been recited to me by many companies as a reason for not locating in the city. Thanks to everyone for their advice it is appreciated.

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Recruiting residential developers to a community
    Economic and Community Development
    Replies: 2
    Last post: 16 Oct 2012, 12:47 PM
  2. Replies: 5
    Last post: 11 May 2005, 1:53 PM
  3. Replies: 27
    Last post: 09 Dec 2004, 1:41 PM
  4. Blue Collar Comedy
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 5
    Last post: 08 Mar 2004, 12:29 PM
  5. Replies: 7
    Last post: 18 Jun 2002, 10:31 PM