Tech Watch: Goodbye, San Francisco. Hello, Erie.

Category:  Tech Watch
Wednesday, August 8th, 2012 at 10:00 AM

By: Michael Haas

This economy has really hit the country hard. Jobs are increasingly difficult to find, and with unemployment nationwide at 8.2 percent (seasonally adjusted), things are not looking good.

Moreover, Erie is facing a crisis: we bring in the best and brightest youth from around the area (looking at Gannon, Mercyhurst, Behrend, Allegheny, Clarion, etc. here), and yet most of these students leave the area once their term at school is over. “Brain Drain” as it’s aptly called, has plagued our community for a number of years and our City Government is not doing much to fix this problem.

We need a change.

Small businesses, especially those in the tech industry have catapulted cities like San Francisco into the modern age. Other communities, such as New York City have embraced the idea of a “startup community” to encourage economic development and growth. From Boston to Pittsburgh, the startup has become a staple of any developing municipality, and Erie is no exception. NYC has even declared itself the “Capital of Innovation,” a testament to its foundation as headquarters for such tech businesses as Foursquare.

Goodbye, San Francisco. Hello, Erie.

Why does Erie constantly take the backseat when it comes to innovation and new ideas? More often than not, we as a community sit passively as the larger cities take the risks and get the recognition. I’m personally tired of settling for the “tried and true.” Let’s not follow in the footsteps of San Francisco, NYC, and Pittsburgh…let’s set the example.

If Erie as a community would take the focus away from the negatives, away from the hardships, and move toward a more energetic and proactive approach to its business and cultural community, we wouldn’t have to convince these students to remain here. They’d be creating businesses, improving the cultural atmosphere of our city, and branding Erie as “the city that does it right.”

Goodbye, San Francisco. Hello, Erie.

Let’s encourage these students to create businesses in Erie. Let’s foster a mentorship program where small business leaders help the youth of our city avoid the mistakes of startups. Let’s capitalize on the cultural, economic, technological, and political renaissance in Erie that is already happening around us.

By advocating the development of jobs in the arts and technology, we’ll be investing in our future. The entrepreneurial class of citizenry that will emerge will be more involved, more focused, and more invested in Erie and how it’s growing.

Goodbye, San Francisco. Hello, Erie.

Now this isn’t to say that Erie is failing now. We’re doing big things here and, slowly but surely, getting the recognition we deserve. But when it comes down to it, we’re left in the dust on the national stage. I want Erie to set the example. I want Erie to exude the confidence I know it has. Creating a community centered around entrepreneurs and startups is the first step in making that happen. San Francisco made a name for itself by focusing on helping small businesses become the names we know today: Microsoft, Apple, Facebook. By focusing on our community’s strengths and making the choice to lead instead of follow; Erie can do the same.

And that’s why I say: Goodbye, San Francisco. Hello, Erie.

Michael Haas can be contacted at epic@eriereader.com

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