Today I took a long walk down 2nd Street in Millville, New Jersey. I expect to be working in town all winter before returning to my bayshore office at Money Island in the spring. I took the two mile walk after a nonprofit accounting engagement that is not going well triggered an upset in my business plan this week. I blogged about that separately last night to blow off steam.
Downtown Millville is about half vacant. I didn’t actually count the closed storefronts but “half” is a solid estimate. I thought about other communications in my past in Pennsylvania that have rebounded from this downtown blight. I thought about the unique challenges facing this region of New Jersey. Those negative perceptions were reinforced when I stopped into the municipal office. I thought about all the business permit applications I’ve made in New Jersey: at least a dozen and only one of them approved. Financing attempts face similar results. More than a dozen applications submitted, only one approved. Then I thought about my most respected local business adviser who says “never be a victim” and so I immediately moved away from the negative thoughts.
I thought about how much time and money I wasted this year on idiotic government actions, including defending the multiple legal actions by four state agencies over government controlled business permits. I often think about what great progress could be made if we put that money and energy into rebuilding rather than fighting each other!
I stopped into an art exhibit at the Clay College that focused on social justice. “Build communities” logo in the window caught my attention. I feel like I do the same work as these artists, but as an accountant. I wonder how many people would see the connection.
I made two resolutions during the walk:
1) I will learn more about local redevelopment, and what is different between Millville and Vineland downtown. (Vineland is rebounding). I consider myself to be strong on small business development but all my recent experience is with rural communities. My distant past with Philadelphia SBDC and recent past interactions with Atlantic City SBDC and other similar organizations helps me see the potential. But I really don’t know enough to identify the problems with this downtown.
2) I will blog about “getting to know Millville” on a daily basis. I won’t include any names, but will document my progress in building collaborative business relationships.