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Innovation from the Ashes

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Check out this article on USAToday that talks about an American icon, IBM, that we built from the ashes of disaster. Enjoy...

http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/technology/maney/2005-09-13-flood-ibm_x.htm?POE=click-refer




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A New New Orleans

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Check out this interesting article from USAToday...

Finally some people are starting to think creatively about the rebuilding efforts in ways that will benefit all the residents of New Orleans, not just vulture-like real estate developers who only see dollar signs and ignore the plight of the people who need the most help. I believe there is an opportunity for prosperity for all of those who desire to live in New Orleans again. That includes large corporations, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and the poor who were previously forgotten and ignored.



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Re-Building Communities

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Rebuilding Communities

By nature I am a builder, a developer. I see things that I believe are broken and I want to fix them. I see a lack of structure, and I want to put some in place. I see disorganization and I have a strong urge to bring organization. I see inefficient processes and I want to infuse efficiency into them. That is who I am and what I do. Therefore, it is very hard for me to read about the seemingly continual disorganization and discontinuity of the relief efforts. It is very clear to just about everyone that this country was not ready for a disaster of this magnitude that has impacted nearly 1 million people directly or indirectly. For a while, it seemed like chaos was king, with the response effort adding more misery and grief to lives that had just been devastated.

Once hurricane season is over (Rita is on her way), the focus should shift fully to rebuilding lives and communities of those who have been displaced. After all the cameras have left and the sensation has died down, there still will be tens (maybe hundreds) of thousands people that will be trying to find and pick up the pieces of their lives, literally and figuratively. Even those who have chosen to be permanently displaced (they don’t want to go back), will need help rebuilding their lives in their newly adopted hometowns. However, what is really waiting for them in their new cities? How challenging will it be for them to get jobs in markets which were already tight? If they lack the skill sets to get the jobs that are available in these locales, what other options will be available to them then? What is the plan in those cities whose populations have instantly swelled in weeks for what normally may have taken decades?

It will be very interesting to see which cities and communities are able to come up with the most innovative and effective plans to insure that their new residents have the opportunity to build new lives successfully and that the resources are made available to them to help them get back on their feet. For many, the displacement will prove to be a blessing in disguise, because it will open up new doors and opportunities that previously weren’t thought about or explored. However, this will only be true for those cities and communities that welcome these individuals and help them to find real solutions to their real problems.




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Blaming the Victim?

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Although the Katrina aftermath and repercussions are going to be an on-going national focus for a loooooong-time, that will not be the sole purpose of this blog. Having said that…

It’s very interesting to me how many people are blaming those who did not evacuate, as if they purposely chose to be victims of this horrific event. It’s almost as if people are implying that the living conditions or situations were voluntary for the majority of those who stayed behind, i.e. the poor. There is no doubt in my mind that if 1) they could have predicted the severity of the storm, and 2) they had the means to get out, then they would have done so. Census records show that many of the areas that were most severely impacted are some of the poorest in the country, not just New Orleans! Therefore, even if they wanted to leave, which many probably did, they didn’t have the resources to go (i.e., no money for a car, bus, or plane ride, or an extended stay at a hotel). I’ve also heard many people saying that those who were evacuated to the Super Dome and the Convention Center should have had four to five days of food with them. Again I use the same argument, because many could barely afford groceries as it was, so to ask them to buy 4 to 5 days’ worth of food was really unreasonable…

We all need to recalibrate how we see the poor and how to help alleviate these conditions. There needs to be a new understanding of how to raise the level of poverty in this country. Yes, we need to require people to take personal ownership of their own conditions and their futures. However, if they don’t have the resources to pull themselves up by their “own bootstraps,” then how can they be expected to figure their own way out of their situation. People don’t just need to be told what to do. In addition to being “inspired,” they need to be EDUCATED and EQUIPPED for success. This is not a short-term fix or something that can happen overnight. There must be a long-term commitment – supported with MONEY – that will enable people to grow out of their current state and build a life that can be perpetuated to their children. Right now, poverty is reproducing poverty in a vicious cycle that must be broken with innovative solutions, not the same, out-dated programs that have shown only limited success, if any success at all. This commitment must come from the public and private sectors, IF we truly are committed to changing the long-term situation in this country, and not just providing a temporary, quick fix for those who have been displaced. Otherwise, let’s not make false promises or show temporary compassion. These people – Americans – deserve better than that.


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Silver Lining

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It is truly heartbreaking to see the physical devastation that has happened in the Gulf Coast. It is even more heartbreaing to think of the lives that have been totally transformed forever by these catastrophic events. One of the key things that clearly has been exposed is the fact that abject poverty is not a thing of the past in this country. Instead, it might possibly be more prevalent now than in the past (which is truly sad considering all of the advancements that this country has made). Yet, there must be some solution that not only could help alleviate some of these problems, but assists people in developing a greater sense of purpose and self-worth, while also empowering them economically.

There is a silver lining in these dark days for the people of the Gulf Coast. The end of one era has created the opportunity for fresh beginnings to be built on new foundations of hope. It is my hope in this forum that I can bring some critical thought and creative ideas to help make the concept of personal economic empowerment a reality for more people. One key way to do this is through business ownership and entrepreneurship.


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Building Empowered Communities

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Not to repeat what you can read in my profile, but I am committed to empowering people that can build better communities. I believe that entrepreneurship and small business development can be used as a strategic tool to make that happen. Therefore, I will use this blog to explore how entrepreneurial thinking can produce creative ideas and innovative solutions to challenges that many impoverished communities face nationally and globally.

Biznovations.net will be a forum where the seed of an idea can be developed into something that can be practically implemented to create positive change and progress. This can only happen when many people, who have incredible vision, diverse skills, boundless energy and a passion for progress, come together to create something greater than what one individual could do on their own.

I am really looking forward to reading your comments, ideas, thoughts, criticisms, and anything else that you think would aid the process of empowering entrepreneurs and improving communities. This should be fun and exciting! Let's get started...

Sincerley,
Paul


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