Tuesday (October 19th) a professor from Kent State University was the featured speaker at the Rotary Club. Interesting guy, originally from Spain, got his advanced degrees in the states, worked in private industry, and has found his niche in Kent State College of Business as their strategy guru.
His topic was the MBA industry but I thought the best part of his discussion was his demonstration of the strategic framework that he applied to make observations, aggregate facts and draw conclusions about Kent State’s strategic position in the higher education MBA market.
That got me thinking about the elements of our City’s strategic positioning, particularly as it relates to the economy and jobs. We think about this stuff all the time and it was actually this kind of thinking that formed the basis for our decisions to push forward with the downtown revitalization projects, but his presentation was a great example for the way strategic thinking applies to real world applications — and what’s good for Kent State’s College of Business seemed good for the City of Kent.
We saw the downtown as an underperforming asset with big upside and a lot of room for market cap growth. Not necessarily because of the direct job creation (although that’s great stuff) but more because of the way it fulfills the kind of lifestyle that study after study has shown to be a marker for entrepreneurship — and we thought we had a chance for a bigger piece of that action if we get the downtown right.
It’s sort of like looking at fallow farm fields — put in a little irrigation and the place blooms into fields of gold. In many respects, the downtown is our field and it just needs some better sources of irrigation that we think will multiply the harvest exponentially.
Face it, for small businesses it’s a jungle out there so we felt that our downtown needs to become that place where all those smaller animals could safely wander up to the watering hole (I guess that’s both literally and figuratively) and flourish in a habitat custom designed for them. In other words, we think Kent’s strategic advantage is in the small business industry.
In looking at how the small business garden grows, it’s clear that time, resources and expertise are limiting factors for them — which is why we’ve tried to adopt the tactic of doing for the little guys what the big guys would do for themselves. It’s our way to help level the playing field to give the small guy a fighting chance.
Everybody needs a little help from their friends and small businesses in Kent have staff from the Kent Regional Business Alliance (KRBA) and Kent State University to help them get started, manage their trajectory, and land on both feet. Here’s a couple of upcoming small business support services that are good examples of small business assistance that can be found right here in town: