Singing for my Supper


You know, I changed my major from opera to business to get out of singing for my supper.  But, dummy me, I get into marketing where, what do I do for a living?  Sing for my supper. 

Today will be a perfect example of this.  I’m so glad they’ve asked me to be curriculum chair.  I dislike the way the program is structured in the way of projects.  I want to look and see if we can change the format to better utilize the groups’ talents, interests and experience in a more collective way. 

Currently, we are a group of 21; split into “teams” of 4 and 5.  We are each given an area and we must come up with a project befitting that area (Economic Development, Community Development, Education and … Social Services – I think). 

What usually ends up happening to at least one of the groups is that they lose a member (or two) at some point during the class and this tanks their project because the synergy is lost. 

Another frequent scenario is that nothing really is accomplished in these groups because they are randomly assembled and the team-members may not necessarily have any expertise or (frankly) interest in their category.  I don’t mean that to sound harsh; it’s just my opinion. 

So, at the end of the year, after all class members are thoroughly exhausted from the extra work OUTSIDE of their normal responsibilities – we all come together to present the findings and results of our labors. 

That’s today. 

Suffice it to say that, if I’m up at 5am, cleaning the kitchen, I’m not excited about it.  Ours is one of the projects that didn’t get finished.  Not for lack of effort or research on our part – basically what we found was that there is not a sufficient funding source to establish capital and there is not enough demand for the services currently in the market (we’d have to attract the majority of our businesses IN).  While bringing businesses in is a great thing for the City and that’s part of what eco dev hopes to accomplish, we felt like we needed to be able to put a little more on the table. 

Furthermore, we discovered – through the course of the class days (the endless field trips that were, for the most part, VERY informative and even a little fun) – that industry in this area is exploding in the fields of technology and bioscience.  We’ve been given the state designation as a bioscience district or corridor.  This is great news for the area; not so great for our project. 

We also ran into a lack of funding opportunities through grants and government initiatives.  Oh, sure – if we’d picked technology or bioscience, state and federal monies are flush.  We know that NOW but we didn’t know it back in September and October when we started looking for a project. 

So, today is going to be a summary of our research and our findings and the conclusion that expanding the capacity of the business incubator is a great idea – just not with a commercial kitchen. 

Back to the issue of how to fix it for next year.  Could we split into two larger teams of, say, 10 people and work more collectively on something with measurable results?  I’d love to see all the talents and creativity of 20 people come into synergy for a BIG project each year but think that would be counterproductive. 

The folks enrolling in this type of Leadership class are, by nature, leaders.  Too many chefs, you know…. 

I don’t know what the right combination is.  I’m going in with some ideas but I’m open to hearing reasons for why things are done the way they are (probably a political thing – what if eco dev was NEVER chosen by a class – it certainly wouldn’t have been MY first pick – I’m no entrepreneur.  My brain just doesn’t work that way.).  There may be some things that can be done, such as taking a list of projects in progress that might be stalling for lack of resources (ex. what’s TEDC already working or is on a short-list of upcoming projects) – something that could benefit and maybe actually get accomplished when you add the leadership of the industry experts along with the resources and manpower of four community “leaders.” 

I’m excited about the new project – just not yet.  *laugh*  Let me get today over with. 



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