Pesky raiders in our economic garden

Much has been touted in recent years about the concept of economic gardening as a way to revive depressed economies. In a nutshell it means to grow new jobs organically from within the community instead of trying to attract new businesses from elsewhere. Theoretically, this would make the local economy more stable as companies would be locally grown and owned.

Unfortunately, all too often, garden pests in the form of corporate gophers and rabbits can ruin the local economic harvest by devouring these newly sprouting startups and take them elsewhere. This exact scenario happened during the past week, as a successful tech startup that had emerged from the East Lansing Hatch (technology incubator), called GiftZip was bought out and now will be moving away to Illinois.

At least in this particular example, the anticipated economic stability and the beneficial reduction in the “brain drain” provided by economic gardening was essentially wiped out. Perhaps the inclusion of a buy-out or sell-out clause is needed for those fresh startups who use the discounted cost of subsidized incubator space and then move away. At least that way, the local community can recoup some of its up front costs, which seems only fair. At the same time, this may just be one of those inherent risks that comes with entrepreneurship and diversifying the local economy. Hopefully, a sudden departure like cited above is the exception rather than the rule.

Any other thoughts or points of view on this topic are welcome.

This entry was posted in cities, economic development, economic gardening, entrepreneurship, planning and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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