WREN Migration

Members of Berlin Industrial Development and Park Authority met with the Women’s Rural Entrepreneurial Network last night. It was AWESOME!
Why? Because it was a group of beer-drinking men with wine-drinking women. Confident, capable, smart, funny, energetic, creative entrepreneurial wine-drinking women. Just the kind of women (and people) Berlin needs to kick start the next version of the city’s economy.
Berlin has those people now. I’ve said before, people like Andre Caron and Pam Laflamme fit into that category. So does Stacia Roberge, Sylvia Poulin, and Tim Cayer. David Poulin and Ryan Landry, along with Mr. Cayer and others are trying to bring this creativity to city government. There are people looking to create their own success in Berlin, thinking beyond the “mill mentality” and making things happen. But the fact is the city needs more people like them; it needs to figure out how to support and produce them.
WREN has amazing resources, which they said helped transform Bethlehem. They are resources that would give Berlin residents the tools to move into the 21st century, and help shake it lose from its industrial past.
(There will be an in depth report of the discussion that went on at WREN headquarters in next week’s Berlin Reporter.)
The members of BIDPA were receptive to a partnership with WREN, if unsure what they bring to the table. What I see BIDPA brings to the table is property. They could give WREN a building so they could open an operation in town, and the long term effects would far outweigh the monetary value of a property. There are problems with that, because then every non-profit in the city would approach BIDPA to give them a building, but few if any could do what WREN can for the Berlin’s economic future.
The discussion between these two groups was awkward and halting, but it was moving toward a shared goal—to bring entrepreneurialism to Berlin. The discussion lasted about an hour, but it was clear it could have gone on for days. Berlin is aching for this type of resource, and WREN needs to understand the challenge it’s looking at.
People who were trained to work in a mill can be trained to work for themselves, but they need to learn what it is they don’t know. This partnership would give people the tools to look outside the box, something they have never had to do.
Last week I heard a commentary on Marketplace from Charles Handy, the founder of the London Business School, about the new economy, and how people have to learn how to make their own work. They need to learn skills they can offer people that people will pay for, he said, because the time of employers taking care of everything is over. Berlin understands this better than most places, but its isolation keeps people from gaining the tools to reinvent themselves. The community college is a great resource, but if you can’t afford it what good is it?
Enter this new model, where training cost $40 instead of $4,000. There is opportunity here to build the 21st century workforce and mindset in Berlin, without abandoning those already there.
Mr. Handy learned these new skills at 49. He said you are never too old to reinvent yourself, which is something Berlin is hoping to prove. But it needs the energy, the creativity WREN can bring. It needs to figure out how to get WREN there, and sooner rather than later.

3 thoughts on “WREN Migration

  1. Erik, I find it interesting that you didn't include me along with the likes of Tim Cayer, Sylvia Poulin and others, in your list of people who can "see beyond the mills", although I realize that at the moment I'm damaged goods as Economic Development Director, mostly because of my lack of support for the Laidlaw project. If you go back and read my monthly Economic Activity Reports to BIDPA, you'll discover that I've advocated for BIDPA to come out of its narrowly focused industrial goals on several occasions. I fully support a BIDPA & Wren initiative for many of the same reasons you cited. That effort can become the spark the community needs to begin building a new economic base. Even more important, it might be the spark that ignites the imagination, creativity and energy of the residents. It's clear to some of us that the new economy will require new thinking, new actions and new attitudes. This project fits that profile and I commend the BIDPA board for its efforts.

  2. Norman,Looks like Grenier is gunning for you per his quote in the paper. I guess there are real consequences in Berlin to believing we can be something more than our industrial past. I guess that opposing biomass in downtown Berlin makes you (and others) the enemy and Grenier is going to take out his enemies one by one. Ruthless politics has no place in Berlin, or so I thought. I guess this is the "new" City Hall where dissentiing opinions will be ignored for the one dimensional vision of Paul Grenier. God help us for the next two years.

  3. Norm –I also left off David Bertrand, Steve Griffin, Katie Paine, Cindy Morin and others who are working to move the city beyond the mill into the 21st century. I wasn't looking to make a complete list. All the BIDPA board members that made it to the meeting with WREN would be eligible for such a list.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s