Our Views: Marketing innovation lacking for new center in Janesville

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

It seems as if those behind the Janesville Innovation Center enjoyed the movie “Field of Dreams” during some planning meeting. You know, that’s the 1989 fantasy-drama that inspired the oft-used phrase, “If you build it, they will come.”

How else do you explain the lack of marketing for the center, which opened six months ago? Just three of the 13 spaces are occupied. Observers including at least one real estate broker—the type of professional who could help stir interest in the center—told The Gazette they’ve never been approached by the center’s leadership to visit and learn about the building.

The center’s leaders admit that marketing efforts have fallen short. Yes, filling the center will take time, and budding entrepreneurs won’t magically appear at the door. And, yes, vacancies at City Hall haven’t helped marketing efforts.

Yet residents looking for jobs or for work with better pay shouldn’t accept excuses. The center’s board is assembling a brochure to mail to prospects. Leaders are considering how to use social media to reach entrepreneurs. The board is inviting outside groups into the center for meetings, and leaders might organize an entrepreneurial fair to showcase the center and the amenities and assistance it can offer startup companies.

All are good ideas. Residents, however, are left to wonder why these marketing plans weren’t laid when the center was being built and ready to go once it opened.

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