Joshua Street's Blog

Archive for the ‘Economy’ tag

Six Ways to Stimulate (insert your city here)

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Most are experiencing economic hardship at some level. Sparked by changes in my own life and just my own personal interest, I have become more active in my local community (Panama City, FL). My hope is to share a wealth of ideas, pool resources, and make our community better, both socially and economically. If you find the principle’s within this post noteworthy, please share them with others. Comment on them and join in the process of making your city great. You can quote me if you like, but it is not required. Besides, I’m not the only one who came up with these ideas, but I think everyone is looking for a response of involvement more than anything else. I made a point to share large corporate goals, yet including just a few common sense notes that are easily applied in everyday life.

Note: If you have more ideas, I want to hear them. You can post, email, message, or just put them into action. The only thing I ask is you not keep them to yourself. You never know what might find its way into a presentation before a board, city council, mayor, pastor, or other community leaders.

#1. Community Co-Op

A membership-based facility equipped with conference rooms, projection screens, wi-fi, printers, faxes, phones, and office spaces. It serves as an entrepreneurial incubator and mini-business support system. “Small business” has become too large in its definition. Helping people follow their passions as a sole proprietor or with a small LLC will stimulate a local economy faster and cheaper than the corporate recruitment process most city governments are involved in. Not to mention that these businesses are going to find their way into profitability sooner than their larger counterparts. (please note: if you already have an office, host a Jelly or invite people over for a work day.)

#2. Community Development Grants

Affordable housing is an issue across the country and now with home values sliding, builders have pulled out of many projects. You are not going to fix this overnight, but utilizing grants for rehabilitating homes or building small TRULY AFFORDABLE homes (under $100,000 for my city) in strategic areas will help. Cities can recoup cost for these type of initiatives very easily because they add to the tax base. (please note: if you have a house, try cutting the grass or removing the confederate flag from your front yard)

#3. Community Health Care

If you take the burden of health care cost off of businesses, thousands of jobs would come to that city. Option One: Create a community health care plan (CIGNA, BCBS, etc). Allow businesses to pay in on behalf of their employees. Buying for 10,000 is a lot cheaper than buying for 5. Option Two: The cheaper, bolder option is a partnership with a local not-for-profit hospital (i.e. Bay Medical) to serve residents. Basically, create a health care plan for businesses and individuals that only allows for treatment at that hospital. There would be no out-of-area coverage or network, but premiums would be incredibly low and the vast majority of health needs would be covered. There is one question to ask ourselves. Are we looking to cover every event or alleviate the financial burden and improve the overall health of the community? Truth be told you can’t afford enough insurance to protect you from everything. (please note: not one of these options will ever require a tax dollars or government involvement) Option Three: Let Washington deal with it and continue to be like every other average community in the nation who thinks they can’t do anything to improve on this matter.

#4. A Non-Profit Coalition

The excuse behind non-profits taking substantial action is always the lack of resources. One might say, “We can’t fix all of these problems.” However, the fact remains that non-profits have more access to more resources and man power than any other single entity besides government. The problem is they do not see themselves as a singular entity. Proposed is a voluntary coalition of non-profits that will address major social and economic issues within a community. Their will be no requirements, but their will be substantial recognition for organizations that actively solve social and economic issues in partnership. (please note: if you are a volunteer, begin befriending volunteers in other organizations and encouraging partnerships)

#5. Education Expansion

The college bubble is about to burst. Beyond obtaining positions as an professional elite (doctor, lawyer, etc), education is far too expensive for the results. However, professional training and education is needed now more than ever. A community needs to attract a passionate think tank of professional elites and modern geek elites. People that will infuse the community with better and brighter ideas, not just lectures; creating a theoretical campus that gives a platform to thought, theory, and real world application. It is great to stimulate our pocket books, but our minds are the most valuable thing we have. Proposed is creating a mobile campus similar to “Barcamps” (google it) during random lunch hours. If managed correctly, passion has a way of attracting more passion. So, start it out being interesting enough to warrant people leaving their offices, and the quality will only get better. (please note: try it out on a Friday lunch with a 5-10 minute informal presentation–basically a show and tell for adults)

#6. Increased Accessibility

When communities become isolated, there are several ways to make them more accessible. One is through transportation: airports, roads, bridges, etc. Another, commonly overlooked in smaller cities, is technology. An investment in technological infrastructure is one of the fastest ways for a community to see growth. Not only does it make a community more attractive to businesses, but it also gives its people ways to connect with other communities. This connection supplies a constant flow of information that makes a community grow stronger and more efficient. The addition of citywide wi-fi and optical fiber to commercial districts will encourage economic expansion and give our community an added business advantage. (please note: a simple way you can help is leave your wireless gateway open for people to connect to the Internet. However, if you have personal information on your computer protect it with a firewall.)

More to come…

Written by Josh

December 17th, 2008 at 11:03 pm

Managing Chaos (L.V.)

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The financial climate is somewhat unpredictable right now. As the world economy comes to a screeching halt, it would seem to me with a Presidential Election three weeks away, a candidate would outline a plan a take the lead. It just shows me how weak leadership in America has become. Since when did a leader need approval to start plowing a direction? Leaders are born to lead. Although I have not been placed in a position to make governmental policy decisions, and no matter how many conversations I have had with the television, the fact still remains that I will not be heard in the masses. Still, even though thousands may not follow, I am outlining my family’s plan to weather the coming months and take control of my financial future. If you wish, I encourage you to read and apply whatever you like to your life.

Of course, it’s time to take a hard look at your spending. I would not encourage a halt on your spending, but I would eliminate the waste in small to medium ticket items. Do you really need to eat out eleven times a week? Can we share or borrow items that are not weekly uses? Instead of the new lawnmower, ask you neighbor if you can borrow theirs. Make sure to fill it up with gas as a thank you. Tough times can really bring people together. Look at this as an opportunity to work together and get to know people. From a personal standpoint, Johannah and I got to know our neighbors best during difficult times. Once your waste is under-control, this might be the right time to make a big ticket purchase. There are some great deals on cars, homes, stocks, and other long term investment items. It is a great time to start a 401k with stock prices at incredible lows. Sure everyone isn’t on the bandwagon, but the bandwagon historically ends up jumping off a cliff. Now is the time to buy a big ticket item, but only if you can afford it and your job is stable.

Take this opportunity to strengthen the relationship with your employer. The truth is most businesses will probably make some job cuts. Most of them will be people that were under-performing, on probation, or temp help. You don’t have to be the best in the company at what you do, but a great way to lose your job is being close to the bottom. Expect to do more without extra pay. Don’t be discouraged though. As the economy recovers, your employer will look to first reward current employees before making new hires. Get some added education. In a tight job market, even the smallest of differences between applicants can have impact. Adding a new certification or even a couple of evening classes will draw attention to your multiple skill sets. A rigid job market calls for flexibility. Make sure you are a shining example of someone who can do more than is required. Again, do not find yourself at the bottom.

If that was not challanging enough, you need a cash cushion. Even if it means paying down your debt in smaller increments. Cash is is king in an economy that changes almost daily. Do not rely on credit and fixed assets to cover emergency expenses. Ideally, your cash cushion should amount to 3 months living expenses, but one month is an absolute must. So if you don’t have it, roll up your shelves and get to work at a temporary second job. It sucks, but if you lose your job you will be thankful. It takes time to find a job. In extreme cases, if the job market drys up in your area, you will even need money to move. The last thing you want is a bankruptcy on your record. If you are in a hole now, there is hope. However, getting out of a hole is often dirtier than digging one. Balance your attack with added income and thriftiness. I am a strong advocate for not killing yourself to get wealth, so you may need to sell of some of those toys and possibly for quite a bit less than you paid. Look at your progress like this: first identify the problem and the problem is almost always overspending. Second, stop the destructive behavior. Third, live within your means and that does not include second job income. Fourth, build a cushion to your living expenses. Finally, start paying off your debt while investing in your future.

Written by Josh

October 10th, 2008 at 12:13 am

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