Change the conversation

"If you don't like what's being said, change the conversation." - Don Draper, Mad Men

Sounds simple doesn't it? But for years we've been in sort of a conversation stagnation where it seems like for every one step forward, we'd take ten steps back. Changing the conversation on our economy and our community can't be done passively. We need to relentlessly and unapologetically repeat the good news about what's going on in Broome County, in the Southern Tier, and in Upstate as a whole. 

One area where we're beginning to do this better is around our growing entrepreneurial community. It had seemed like this for a while, but it became vividly apparent when I had the opportunity to attend the 2nd Annual Upstate Unleashed Awards hosted by Upstate Venture Connect last month. Ironically, the UVC organizers weren't even sure if they should venture into a second program because they weren't convinced there was enough interest. Well, about 350 seats strong was a group of entrepreneurs, educators, economic developers and more with a laser focus on growing opportunity Upstate. 

It was awesome to learn of the amount of deal flow and incredible companies forming - yes, here in Upstate New York. From Buffalo to the Hudson Valley and everywhere in between. Perhaps the best line came from Apprenda CEO Sinclair Schuller remarked {about proximity to New York City}, "why would I want to go to Silicon Valley when the largest market is just a short drive from my front door." An interesting read on Schuller can be found in this Forbes article "Apprenda: The Anti-Silicon Valley Startup." This sentiment was echoed throughout the day by emerging startups in genomics, technology and more. And it clicked - we don't need to change who or what we are, just how we talk about it. 

So how do we change the conversation here locally? Well, the first step is never the easiest, but we're doing it - partnering. Our office has linked up with Binghamton University, SUNY Broome Community College, the Greater BInghamton Chamber of Commerce, the Entrepreneur Alliance, the Small Business Development Center, Binghamton Economic Development, and local businesses, breweries and more to host monthly meet ups to create the kind of collisions that need to happen to change the conversation about what's happening in our community. 

Our next mixer is on Thursday, October 27 from 5-7 p.m. at M&T Bank on Exchange St in downtown Binghamton. M&T Bank, a "traditional" lender that is engaging in the entrepreneurial ecosystem with a keen understanding that the startups of today are the businesses of tomorrow. I hope that you'll consider attending, maybe for the first time - and bring someone with you.  We've invited a few emerging startups to pitch and we don't think you'll want to miss. 

We've got a ways to go, but we're changing the conversation and that could make all the difference. 


-posted by Stacey

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