Sunday, October 26, 2008

Inspiring Entrepreneur ......... Letter to Editor

The following was printed in the Letters to the Editor in the Marion Star & Enterprise on October 15, 2008.

Dear Editor,
The Inspiring Entrepreneur in the Sept. 24 issue of the Marion Star & Mullins Enterprise impressed me; it was not the typical letter to the editor. I, too, feel, as Kimberly Genwright does, that there is a need for more wisdom and more opportunities to provide for improvement in the paradigm of Historical Underutilized Business (HUB) Zones of which Marion County is one.

Several years ago, I started some research by looking at two areas, The Piedmont Triad Area in central North Carolina, where I now live, and the North East Strategic Area, which includes Marion County, where I was born and lived until going away to college. By looking at the two areas it gave me a better understanding. ... It is insightful to compare them and examine how they are dealing with their challenges. I discov­ered some interesting things in the process.

One of those was that Marion had a REWARD program that uses Work Keys for enabling work force for employment. When I discovered REWARD, I visited Dan Breeding to better understand it. Here the Piedmont Triad Partnership has a grant from the Department of Labor for a WIRED program that also has Work Keys as a facet of its effort for enabling the workforce. I am a member of Marion County Progress to better understand how they are addressing the challenges.

Since I find gloom and doom as I visit Marion County, let me share what happened here in Greensboro. Several years ago the inner city was a dead zone; today it is alive and developing as a very attractive place to live. What woke up Greensboro was an economic report that was full of gloom and doom. Several people came together and formed Action Greensboro; which has been and still is a catalyst for development and improving Greensboro. It wasn't easy, but people with a passion turned Greensboro from a dead zone into a striving and attractive area to live and work.

One of the best-kept secrets here in Greens­boro is the Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship. It started in an old bank building, when I first visited it, the conference room was the bank vault. Some people with a vision put together a plan to turn an old textile building into a Business Incubator Center. Today it has over 100 graduates and over 100 associates with a wide variety of types of businesses. It seems to me that Marion needs to encourage entrepreneurs to start businesses, because they have so much potential for strengthening the economy.

During the past 20 years, I have been plagued with charts and diagrams of models that I now call Metaphors for the 21st Century. One of the metaphors is the Innovative Engine.
It is a team with five hats. The simplest way to think about it is to look at a room with four cor­ners. In corner one is the marketplace where the Customer Hat resides, in corner two is produc­tion and service, where Technologist Hat resides, in corner three is where the Engineer Hat does development and in the fourth corner is the where the Scientist Hat does Research; in the middle of the room is the Business Hat that manages the process of the four other hats.

These five hats are the innovative engine of an entity, be it small or large enterprise or just an individual trying to solve a problem. The essential steps are to Research, Develop, Produce, Market and Manage the operation. This is a cycle where there is continuous improve­ment to the product or service that is being pro­vided to the Customer. Marion County needs innovative engines for success in the future.

Thanks for letting me share these thoughts with your readers.
Best Regards.
Lonnie H. Baxley Jr.

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