An old idea to be sure, but certainly one that merits consideration as we begin the New Year. Perhaps as much now as during any other time in history, the world is at odds with itself. Political, economic and civil strife are more common than not. Polarizing ideals are becoming more and more entrenched with an inversion of priorities so execrable that truth and morality have become equivocal and subject to whims of corporate or political marketing. Worse yet, those who should be leading have ensconced themselves with a false allegiance to some bastardized theory of capitalism and patriotism, leaving the rest of us to fend for ourselves. And fend we must.
At the risk of being overly melodramatic and cliche ridden, (and yes, I admit that I am drawn to such flourishes), it is time stop all this nonsense and look beyond our own individual success. It’s time to create the world we want our children and grandchildren to live in- to pay it forward.
Over the last year, I have had the opportunity to see how little instances of paying it forward can build a community from scratch and excite an entire town. Sure we’re not nearly as impressive as the OWS movement, but in our way, what is happening in Las Vegas is a microcosm of what is possible.
For those of you not familiar with Las Vegas, we’ve had a bit of an economic downturn. Sure the casinos are doing fine, but just about everything else tanked. Las Vegas boldly competes for highest unemployment and foreclosure rates in the nation and the lowest scores in education, education funding, healthcare, family services, research grant funding, VC funding and just about every indices that sane, educated, people look at when determining where to live and where to do business. To add insult to injury our libertarian roots, rather than guide us toward to the possible, have forced the political leadership into policy contortions so pretzelled the circus would be impressed.
This all changed about eight months ago when the rest of us began fending for ourselves, realigning priorities and paying it forward. The benefits of a crashed economy, if there can be any, are that only up is possible. Vegas was given the opportunity to re-build, re-define, re-align. Although the bastions of economic development have yet to realize this opportunity, our little movement towards economic re-birth is growing, one little startup company at a time.
In the spirit of the New Year, I’d like to recognize all those who are re-building the Las Vegas economy. Those individuals, who in addition to building their own businesses are helping to build their neighbor’s business and the community as a whole. And of course, we’d like to thank those who have helped Lucine grow over the last year. Here’s my list of Southern Nevadans paying it forward within the business community. Feel free to add to it.
In no particular order:
Cybertek Networks, James Lauf and Ellen Saravis, for supporting and helping build Southern Nevada Biotechnology Entrepreneurs and Henderson’s (suburb of Las Vegas) nascent Parallel Innovations Labs ( biotech incubator facility).
David and Jennifer Gosse, founders of Tracky, founders of MOMOLasVegas, supporters of Vegas Tech, StartupWeekend, Ignite Las Vegas, LaunchUp Las Vegas, driving all sorts of community building efforts.
Tony Hsieh, Zappos, for putting his money where his mouth is and investing in Downtown and the new tech economy.
Kate Marshall, Steve George, Mark Mathers, for SB75 and NCIC small but important steps for the new Nevada economy.
Switch– for things to come.
Arnold Gold – for being a great Lucine mentor and advisor.
Shavonnah Tiera– for bringing StartupWeekend to Las Vegas and being an ardent supporter of startups.
VCubate – for giving Lucine and other companies a place to work.
Bob Cooper and Jeff Leake – City of Henderson Office of Economic Development- for being the most progressive, supportive development office in the Nevada.
Quertle.com -Jeff Saffer and Vicki Burnett, for co-founding SNBE with me, for work on Parallel Innovations Labs and for raising the bar for technology companies in Las Vegas by winning the National Library of Medicine Technology Award.
Ayloo.net for driving the conversation on community building.
The Beat Coffee House, we couldn’t ask for a better place to meet and co-work.
Usr/lib – take a look.
The guys at LaunchUP Las Vegas—for bringing the concept of barn-raising to the startup community.
And the incredible Lucine team, for doing whatever it takes.
What can you do to pay it forward?