From the Editors: Local Businesses Aim to Level Up
Is life a game of chance or a game of skill? And what happens when the rules change?
Is life a game of chance or a game of skill? It would depend on who you ask, but most would agree it's neither purely roulette nor purely chess. Instead, they might just say "it's a grind."
If you've ever played a role-playing game (RPG), you might be familiar with the term "grinding" — returning to an area you've already mastered to build up enough resources to tackle an area you haven't. You collect them in the form of materials — items, weapons, armor, currency — and experience, which is applied toward better competencies and skills. With enough grinding, you just might be able to hold your own against the more daunting enemies and challenges to come. Of course, since the advent of the massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) such as World of Warcraft, it has become possible to buy fully upgraded characters and equipment outright with real money on sites like eBay. Others put in the (palm) sweat equity so you don't have to — it's almost like being born rich.
But as is often the case in fantasy, so it is too in reality. In our professional lives, few of us start as a Level 100 Wizard, just conjuring resources from the ether at will. We either grind for a while and advance, or just "keep grinding." For those of us who do choose to proceed toward greater obstacles and the pursuant reward, we undertake the element of chance and place faith in our skills — like a game of the original RPG Dungeons & Dragons, it's a series of dice rolls combined with real-time problem-solving and creative thinking. Business owners and entrepreneurs accept this and embrace this.
But what happens when the rules change? How have they reacted during a year when it seems every roll of the dice is coming up snake eyes? In some cases, quite well. In this latest adventure of the Erie Reader, we explore how local businesses of all classes and specializations have fought back against the insidious new coronavirus, using every resource and bit of ingenuity at their disposal. You'll see how a local plastics manufacturer is actually growing, how a long-term care facility has come together as a family, and how local bars and restaurants have concocted compelling potions and elixirs to go. You'll hear firsthand from those in personal services, dining and hospitality, and music and entertainment about the actions they've taken in the face of tremendous adversity.
We here at the Reader have been forced to make adjustments of our own, although our character class (Erie's only independent alternative newspaper) and alignment (champions of all things local) remain the same. So while we narrowly missed the originally scheduled publication date of our annual "Industry, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship" (I2E) issue due to the onset of the pandemic, we've summoned up its spiritual successor in this edition. This time, though, we're adding one important word to the mix — adaptation.
If we are all to survive and be our fittest, we must match our capabilities to our realities. Some have already fallen and others will fall — the campaign drags on and the rules change, and they haven't always seemed fair. It's been a grind. But with any luck, perhaps we can level up as a community before this is all over.