Building relationships for a CoolTown
A common phrase in commerce is that business is all about relationships. On the residential end, a sense of community is also all about relationships. The CoolTown process relies on building such relationships from planning to reality, and the key to success its fostering constant conversation.
In the CoolTown planning phase, these conversations are facilitated through support groups. That is, people who share a common cause, often dealing with a common problem. There’s a resulting sense of bonding among the participants as they dialogue with one another to overcome their common problem and achieve their individual goals.
CoolTown business-oriented support groups are referred to as guilds, while social-oriented support groups are referred to as circles.
How are these support groups created? Do you know of any effective business support groups you’re in?
For community engagement and social learning in the conceptual planning stage of the North West Ohio Research, Science & Technology Corridor that includes a CoolTown element, we did the following.
1) Created a 3 30 minute TV shows with civic leaders that discussed the concept, and the shows were aired on the cable community channel for several months.
2) Created a partner group of keenly interested public and private organizations that discussed the concept and signed memorandums of understanding to collaborate.
3) Created a business steering committee made up of CEOs that are a sounding board for the concept.
4) Conducted a community outreach of power point presentations to different groups.
5) Continue community engagement. Despite all of our efforts to communicate the concept and get feedback there are still pockets of people that have not heard about the concept, and more importantly, the concept is evolving and its current status must be communicated and vetted.
6) Listen and respond to but do not focus on the nay-sayers. Regardless of the project there will always be opponents. In my experience most opposition stems from a mis-interpretation or lack of information so communicating the vision is important. But sometimes a minority is just opposed and they should not determine the outcome. If the majority support a concept and you are focused on the minority then the minority controls the majority and the least common denominator prevails… The bold ideas are killed (CoolTown concept) and only the least offensive elements of a concept go forward.
7) Never stop engaging.