I arrived in the Las Vegas eager to experience Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project and see what all the fuss was about. I left inspired by the project’s holistic approach to community building and a true proponent of Hsieh’s leadership style. It made me realize that, if done correctly, companies can rebuild neighborhoods that are sustainable and cohesive.
Over the course of five years, downtown Las Vegas is set to receive a total of $350MM of investment from Hsieh for startups, small business, culture and education in an effort to revitalize the neighborhood–it is currently in its second year of this initiative. The results so far have been fascinating and downtown Las Vegas is flourishing with quality startups, businesses and entertainment. There is no reason to leave downtown, unless you live on the East Coast and and are dying to pick up In-N-Out Burger a few miles out.
In Miami, we are experiencing our own revitalization in various neighborhoods, one of them being Wynwood, where many entrepreneurs and startups work. Like downtown Las Vegas, Wynwood has been able to pull itself out of poverty because of heavy investments starting with the Wynwood Walls in 2006 . Moreover, The Knight Foundation is betting on Miami’s entrepreneurial community where they funded more than 50 investments in entrepreneurship in the last 18 months. Miami is looking to build a community where cohesion happens, so here are three lessons we can learn from Las Vegas:
1. Adopt a Holistic Vision of Community
Miami needs to adopt a holistic approach to incorporate the neighborhood’s current culture to create a strong community. If you want to build a startup friendly neighborhood, $12 smoothies and $20 lunches are unacceptable. We need to create a space where entrepreneurs can walk and meet: a place where businesses and startups can not only coexist, but feed each other. Downtown Las Vegas is all about accelerating serendipity and maximizing the Return On Luck (ROL), which affects the value of a resident out in the community.
2. Growth & Sustainability Depend On The Profit of Successful Companies
Companies need to succeed and do well, it encourages new startups to come and set up shop in the neighborhood. There need to be financial incentives for entrepreneurs to move their companies into the area to support other local services and retail. It’s all about creating an ecosystem of support.
3. Don’t Forget Your Miami Tech Pride
Everyone I had the chance to meet during my visit were proud to be part of The Downtown Project and Hsieh’s work. In Miami, we established that we are more than beaches and fun and that we are committed to creating a sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem. Miami entrepreneurs, local and transplants, need to come together and support fellow CEO’s, local businesses and city initiatives that propagate the city’s success.
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