Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Silos as Hi-Tech Accelerators

High-risk municipal incentives are not needed to kick-start next economy companies. Speculative bets are the domain of the private sector. It is not Council's mandate to provide seed capital. Needed is a culture conducive to starting and growing businesses, i.e. an arms-length role by council in coordinating and cultivating.
By underwriting London Economic Development Corp'n and contributing to various incubators, London taxpayers already prime the growth pump to the tune of $30 millions annually. Some would have us "up the ante" another 2 to 3 million. Out-of-control civic expenditures outpace home-owner tolerance for aggregating yearly tax increases ...and send progressive businesses to better managed jurisdictions.
Venture capitalists shun early stage investments. Why would a city council venture where professional VC partnerships dare to tread ... and draft taxpayers as guillible investors?
The most attractive lure for new entreprneurs is a competitive tax level. It is attained by operational management -not equity risk management. The city will never have the expertise to compete with angels, banks and venture capital firms. Stick to municipal basics. Do them well, and economic health follows.
To play devil's advocate: if the city has no business being lead VC, what in the name of economic development can be salvaged from the Next Economy Report?
1.Synergy amongst city silos : LEDC, Stiller Center, and TechAlliance should realize economies of combining info-structure before infusion of new civic money is even considered. Industry and university collaboration is best for fostering home-grown hi-tech. Any government-sponsored VC pool should be left to the Feds or the Province a la Israel's Yozma fund.
2. Regionalism: This would be a noble departure for London. A place to start is working with municipal partners from Woodstock to Strathroy in lobbying for an extended 403 trade corridor. Short-sighted turf mentality is the barrier.
The single-silo Toronto Region Research Alliance (with Fed and Prov support) also chases the holy grail of a high-wage economy. Unlike London, there is no sign that Toronto City Hall dares take equity positions in early stage startups.
New Directions: We have to decide between an emerging research, development, and commercialization center ...or an encroaching wilderness. Tree City's council must reverse its back-woods image and get its priorities straight by putting "open for business" ahead of saving old buildings that have outlived their usefulness ...and using property taxes to acquire woodlots at subdivision land prices.
T'is time for those seeking re-election to worry more about high taxes and decaying infrastructure and to worry less about promoting the hip element and starting a municipal venture capital pool. Millwaukee recognizes the drivers of standard of living are competitiveness and productivity. Its next economy slogan is "Competitive City." Also, for reality in the post dot com economy, read Uncool Cities.
Only enlightened leadership can instill the requisite "next economy" mind-set on Council ...and curtail excess zeal for investing tax dollars in nano/bio start-ups, woodlot acquisition and decrepit building preservation.

Old posts may be updated with new information. Re-visit.

  • With their location and cultural mix, Montreal and Vancouver rate high on Fast Cities. All speed-readers (and Prof Florida fans) should click on those side bar titles.
  • Within weeks of Christmas, creation of the new London Regional Development Development Board is announced as a merger of LEDC, TechAlliance, Stiller Centre for Biotechnology and the Small Business Centre.
  • While regional members in the new single silo are sparse, we still expect to see a noticeable leap in our region's techno-competitiveness. Regular reports on projects and results would be appreciated; no need for expensive annual high-gloss PR ...just a straight-from-the-shoulder blog by the honcho would suffice.
  • A week before commercial Xmas, a couple of tech-hip councillors use their BlackBerrys to message that the Civic VC fund died before birth ...and that a city-funded agri-expressway is among the walking dead.
  • On the eve of the penultimate longest night: Merry Holiday to all, and to all a good hike!
  • Dateline Queen's Park Nov 15, 2007 7, The Provincial Liberals have assembled a Super VC fund with four institutional investors to administer an initial $165 million pool.

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    Saturday, September 17, 2005

    Business/Professional Blogs & SEO

    To blog is to engage influencers in getting your ball rolling. Your advocacy blog should be more than an easily updated web site since your great idea impacts only if it has agents capable of spreading it through personal networks and support structures. It takes design and planning to flog your blog.
    Whatever you're advocating or promoting -whether your blog, your idea, or yourself, never cease finding new clusters of readers.
    Whereas, the acronym SEM (search engine marketing) came to the fore with the proliferation of business web sites, it's newer teammate, SEO (search engine optimization) is often associated with business and professional blogs.
    In starting LondOnt it was assumed, "build it" with original content and readers will "find it." It was envisioned as a niche site to show-case journalistic skills and to advance progressive civic projects, while shaming some councillors into representing all constituents rather than catering to a special interest. After 9 months, the Pulitizer Prize jury is still out ...and pre-election hype is just starting.
    Advocacy blogs would benefit from September tips in blogbusinessworld. The return in investment of time/effort by blogger owner's subtle infomercials is not as easily measured as direct marketing efforts, yet the public relations, referrals and ultimate sales potential of their blogs warrants technical expertise not usually available in small (non-tech) firms and in professional offices; here's a great consultancy opportunity for some under-employed geek. A cheat sheet helps demystify HTML code.
    There's a multi-page screed on the blogger site itself showing how to use the SETTINGS Tab to help optimize search engine page rankings.

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    Wednesday, September 14, 2005

    Blog on Advocacy Blogs (revised)

    Philosopher/writer. Ayn Rand, said, "Ideas cannot be fought except by better ideas. The battle consists not of opposing, but of exposing, not of denouncing, but of disapproving, not of evading, but of boldly proclaiming a full consistent and radical alternative."

    In advocacy blogging, the presumption is that content :
    - is relevant
    - is understood, and
    - is usable
    Aims of advocacy blogging are:
    (a) to research, share and educate.
    (b) to increase awareness and thinking.
    (b) to stimulate engagement -and action.

    Bloggers wear three hats: author, editor, and e-publisher. He/she is neither given assignment nor deadline; the only self-imposed dictates are original content and appropriate supporting links. Distill the facts, take a position and encourage online discussion.

    1. Be persuasive, not abrasive.
    2. A blog can be a web of influence.
    3. Used skillfully; a great advocacy tool.
    4. Attract readers with magnetic headlines.
    5. Articulate a problem and advance remedy.
    6. Support your case with persuasive evidence.
    7. Raise awareness; rally support for the cause.
    8. Post often, but only with content that matters.
    9. Strive to get it right. Keep it tight. Less = more.
    10.A well thought-out blog outreaches a good speech.
    11.Make content authorative, relevant and actionable.
    12.A hyperlink can be more compelling than blog itself.
    13.For impact, link to high quality relevant documents.
    14.Anyone can rant and complain; most do. Offer solutions.
    15.Online is forever, so don't author your own misfortune.
    16.Be provocative yet respectful ...and advance alternatives.
    17.If audience is wide and diverse, avoid jargon and acronyms.
    18.Via ripple effect, a blog amplifies your message and impact.
    19.Original thinking and relevant links are keys to high traffic.
    20.Readership may be minuscule, but blog readers are influential.
    21.Advocacy blogs are about connecting, credibility & persuasion.
    22.Figure out what the hell you want to say, then cut to the chase.
    23.It's not as much about who you know, as it is who you can reach.
    24.Few academics, farmers and politicians are convinced of new ideas.
    25.Few bloggers exhibit the critical thinking & crafting of journalists.
    26.If you can spell there is little need to go for purfection -or sloppiness.
    27.And, beware of Sturgeon's Law: Ninety percent of everything is crud.
    28.Sweeney's Law supplants Pareto's 80/20 rule: 90% of effort is for naught.

    Blogs are not held to the literary standards of books and magazines, but they should show more finesse than email messaging. Even though time-pressured, executives who blog are expected to show some journalistic craft. e.g. avoid the passive voice.
    Unlike journalists, bloggers don't have editors to clean up their prose. With instant publishing, we should heed a Hemmingway comment from the typesetting era: "The most essential gift of a good writer is a built-in shock-proof shit-detector."
    All serious bloggers should ask the question: What's the purpose of broadcasting my unfiltered thoughts into space? This scribe's profiles on the Londont and on Le70Sabre Web sites attempt to answer that question.

    On Feedback
    1. Be succinct.
    2. Engage; toss the ball back and forth.
    3. Stay on topic and contribute new info.
    4. Don't comment just for sake of commenting.
    5. Attack or promote the idea, not the proponent.
    6. Keep comments civil, intelligible, short and relevant.
    7. Comments can be more interesting than original post.
    8. Guru sez, "Absence of comments often signifies agreement.
    9. Since comment cannot be deleted, delay response if emotional.
    10. Well-reasoned dissent sans rudeness helps understand topic.
    11. Ignore Trolls: People who just comment to get a rise out of others.
    12. Email is intended to be private; a blog comment is a public 1-to-many msg.
    13. Some have courage of their convictions, others audacity of their anonymity.

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