“Having a competitive edge for the 21st Century

Is Hamtramck prepared for the 21st Century?

The talk around town is of city promotion, festivals, and economic development planning, all of which are much needed for our city. If you look around the greater metropolitan area, especially in Oakland County, you will notice many communities hold at least five festivals annually. These communities each understand the effective power of marketing, which is something that should not go unnoticed by our own City Council.

The City Council inundates us with negativity concerning our financial picture, but they continually fail to address basic business fundamentals, including implementing a marketing plan.

The community has grown increasingly tired of all the whining, and action must be taken immediately to start the engine going, instead (for example) of harping on the two local young women, Rachael Srodek and Kathleen Bittner, who effectively helped save the Labor Day Festival in this town. These two women have had to endure criticism from some corners over the way that the festival was handled, particularly all the ballyhoo over the city’s firemen being denied a special booth rate, as had happened in years past.
These two have in fact done an outstanding job. Hamtramck should be embracing their ideals, and standing behind all the younger folks who want to see this city continue to succeed – especially when it’s technically their futures on the line.

Simply stated, we have to realize that the way things were done in the past cannot always work in today’s business world. I am constantly amazed when I see how some corporations — especially the really successful ones — “going for the kill” as they try to capture more than their “fair market shares.” As a civic entity, we could do with a little more of this fighting spirit.

You see, Hamtramck is no different from any corporation, and every successful corporate entity has a viable, well-thought-out and comprehensive plan for their future. Effective marketing, in particular, is a necessity; for municipalities, activities like holding festivals become essential for generating revenue, both for themselves and their local businesses as well, and they help to give a city its own, uniquely, “branded” identity.

These unique identities inevitably lead to financial success. Whether a corporation is running a temporary deficit, or making a profit, the smart ones adhere to a well-considered marketing plan. They may make changes or adaptations, but they are constantly marketing their products, services, or unique shops, restaurants, etc. Without marketing, there is little ability to either generate, or even preserve, revenue.
Why can’t this city get their act together?

Why is it that we seem to keep going around in circles, doing the same things over and over? The old saying goes that the definition of insanity is “doing the same things over and over again, but expecting different results.”

Perhaps we suffer from a shared nostalgia. Well, I feel the answer is that we keep electing people who lack the financial background and education to help propel us through the new century. We have to become serious, and start to take better advantage of the many tools here at our disposal, by promoting this city as much as possible – and that, my friends, means scheduling at least five festivals or other major events per year.

Not to deviate from the principle matter at hand, but when I paid a recent visit to the City Council’s chambers, I was mortified to see that, not only was the audio system obsolete and poor, but the temperature was ridiculously warm to the point where our elected officials had to expend much of their energy fanning themselves to keep cooled off or trying to stay awake.

If we want to be like other effective communities, we should have, at a minimum, quality audio and video technologies; an up-to-date physical plant to help regulate the basic temperature and air quality, and each official should at least have their own laptops. Any ordinary company would at least have these minimal comforts and technologies, let alone a company running a $18 million budget as our city does.

I still believe that we can have success, if we can get serious and adopt a more optimistic approach to our endeavors, by adapting a more corporate-like philosophy – one where we are looking for ways to maximize our profits, and yield returns on our investments. Wouldn’t it be nice to see an increase in tax revenues — resulting from a shrewd application of basic business fundamentals – instead of always having to plead poverty, or be one step away from receivership?

With the proper forward-thinking mindset, I would argue that we absolutely can.

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