Experts: Area should do more for startups

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sun, 10/31/2004 - 14:25.

This article couldn't be more accurate about entrepreneurship issues in Northeast Ohio - although this is about the Lehigh Valley (around Allentown, PA). We're not alone in our problems, and we can learn from the analyses and strategies of others in similar circumstances.


Experts: Area should do more for startups

They say Valley could foster innovation with informal network.

By Jeanne Bonner

Of The Morning Call

In California's Silicon Valley, experts say entrepreneurs who need advice are only one or two phone calls away from an answer.

Some observers have begun to call that web of connections among innovators a ''central nervous system.''

The bad news is the Lehigh Valley lacks a ''central nervous system,'' and it can't buy or build one.

That's the verdict of a group of entrepreneurs and consultants who say
the Lehigh Valley needs to do more to encourage innovation. The group
says the area's hierarchical industrial roots have not given way to
informal networks where innovators can easily share ideas and

''Innovators are truly merit-based,'' said Mark
Lang, a consultant to startup firms and the former executive director
of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
''Ideas dictate. When you think about it, that's very different.'' He
was comparing innovative companies with traditional firms, where ideas
come from the top.

Lang was speaking at a symposium he led
Wednesday night at DeSales University. It was the third in a series of
events funded by the Trexler Trust. The series aims at examining what
the Lehigh Valley needs to do to position itself in today's global

Innovative companies are in the minority in any community, but they are important because they help drive the economy.

''This is where the wealth is created,'' Lang said.

Lang and others said a web of connections among innovators could
develop in the Lehigh Valley. But it is unlikely that an organization,
state-sponsored or otherwise, can create such a network, he said.

Startup companies that have moved to the Valley often rave about the
area's quality of life, low costs and employees' work ethic. But some
local business owners say they have to reach outside the Valley for new
ideas and support.

Read more about their strategy...

( categories: )