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Your Opinion: Pursue proposed innovation center

Your Opinion: Pursue proposed innovation center

February 9th, 2012 by Jack Ryan, Jefferson City in News

Dear Editor:

It's likely that when you read this, the people of Jefferson City will have spoken on the issue of Transformation. Debate was extensive and all had an opportunity to participate. Now it's time to leave debate behind and implement what we, the people, have decided.

No plan devised by man is perfect and transformation is no exception. Those who volunteered to play a role in various committees offered ideas for consideration, some good, some not so good. Some ideas advanced while others withered and died when exposed to scrutiny of fellow volunteers, a highly democratic process. As ideas emerged and evolved, each participant, surely, adopted a favorite. Like my fellow volunteers, I found a favorite that I believe has the potential to be truly transformative. My favorite? An innovation center.

In discussing the need for Transformation some have described our community as conservative. That's an apt description, no doubt. However, as a recent transplant in Jefferson City, one who has lived here only 37 years after living in communities all over the country and around the world, I would like to describe Jefferson City as conservative, insular, even isolationist.

Before you explode, please note: I eagerly chose Jefferson City to be my permanent home town because I love the place. It's incredibly appealing with potential to be even better. Rather than being just conservative, insular and isolationist, our community can and should be vibrant, forward-looking and outgoing, a real leader. To that end, an innovation center can harness the energy and expertise of local colleges, universities, businesses, industry and individual entrepreneurs to advance economic and cultural development for the benefit of all. An innovation center is much more than bricks, mortar and money, a large component is attitudinal.

Activities of a vigorous innovation center will inevitably stimulate interest among young professionals and others looking for a place to pursue a career. Whatever the outcome on Feb. 7, we should actively pursue development of an innovation center.