Hoboken’s Future Promise as a Hotbed of Business Start-Up Success

The following Guest of the Stable submission comes courtesy of Ethan Chazin.

In the interest of full disclosure, let me start by saying I
LOVE Hoboken.
My wife and I moved here in 1998, and our daughter was born
here.  I formed a business consulting and
career coaching firm in town in 2009.  I
have worked with thousands of residents to provide career coaching and business
My commitment to ensuring the future success of this town is
reinforced by my membership in the Hoboken Rotary, and I am also a member of
the Hoboken-based BNI group, Gold Coast.
I have been a member of the Hoboken Chamber of Commerce,
conducted job search boot camps in town to hundreds of residents, and gave
career exploration talks to over 500 students at Demarest and Hoboken High
My ongoing frustration with the town is there is no central
authority (Task Force) empowered to coordinate initiatives that bring together
the towns’ students, graduates, entrepreneurs, start-ups and small business
owners. We need a cross-functional Team combined with public sector/private
enterprise representation to foster new business development and jobs creation
of substantial magnitude in such fields as green initiatives, clean technology,
and high technology.

There is a Hoboken Technology Task Force that was formed in
March, 2012 with the assistance of Aaron Price and the NJ Tech MeetUp.
This Task Force was created to facilitate new technology development.  Of late, it appears that the Task Force’s
focus has changed to now focus on IT and telecommunication infrastructure
I would like to see
our Administration facilitate an open and honest discussion about the town’s
long-term plans to facilitate new technology and 21st Century post
manufacturing jobs creation similar to StartUp NY.  It was this glaring lack of public discourse
and public/private sector enterprise that led me to form a Hoboken Business
networking group last year.

Our Hoboken Business Rainmakers group is now 200 members
strong, with members coming from as far away as Staten Island and
Pennsylvania.  Such initiatives are
required for the city to facilitate connections between students,
entrepreneurs, professionals, business owners, as well as local vendors and
service providers.
There are many solutions that Hoboken could implement, to
realize its potential as a world-class center of entrepreneurial business
start-up activity.  One such initiative
could be bringing together a forum/Council type of entity comprised of
individuals that serve on City Government, run local business establishments,
not-for-profit organizations, and educational functions.

Such a Task Force could be patterned after Business
Improvement Districts, Economic Development Centers, or Urban Enterprise Zones.
These entities receive tax incentives, and can leverage statewide funding to
supplement private funding sources for to help foster jobs growth and new
business creation.
We have an internationally renowned technology and
engineering college in Stevens Institute of Technology.   The University has an Entrepreneur and
Innovation Center that could function as a pipeline to feed new businesses in
town and thus serve as a significant source of new high tech jobs
creation.  I would love to know what the
city’s current strategy is for connecting with Stevens.
I served on the student business plan competition at Stevens
last spring, and it was amazing to see all the fantastic new business
ideas.  No one from the city was
involved, so I wonder how, if at all, is our town engaging the University to
create an entrepreneur launch forum?
Hoboken has the tremendous potential to serve as a 21st
Century start-up community, much like Austin, Texas with the direct involvement
of the University of Texas and Dell Computers. 
Hoboken’s proximity to New York City (Silicon Valley) should provide it
with a significant number of strategic benefits to spur investment in
technology and entrepreneur business start-up activity.

For starters, there are many local area business incubators
associated with local colleges and Universities like NJIT, NJCU, Montclair
State, etc.  We also have a highly
educated work force.  The town has
doubled in population from the 2000 to 2010 Census.  There seems to be ongoing discussion
surrounding the Observer Highway (NJ Transit) development initiative that will
add 2-3 million square feet of combined residential-commercial space. What
percent of that 7 block stretch of real estate from the Path down Observer
highway has been ear-marked for innovative and entrepreneurial ventures?
It is not as if we lack for the resources to facilitate an
evolution from the town best known for pizza, Frank Sinatra and the birthplace
of baseball into a 21st Century entrepreneur community. What we truly lack is a defined long-term vision for the
future of business growth to leverage technology.  Certainly no one can dispute the tremendous
resources and time that the city had to spend just to get its infrastructure
back up after Hurricane Sandy. In fact, that work continues to date, and the
amount of resources required has likely set the city’s long-term technology
planning back considerably. 

There are many local single initiatives taking place in
town, but there seems to be a lack of any coordinated initiative on a citywide
basis.  Thanks to the work of Greg Dell
Aquila, Hoboken has a shared entrepreneur workspace called Mission 50 located
in the Harrison Business Center that received recent coverage by the Hoboken
Who is coordinating the disparate stand-alone initiatives on
a citywide basis?  Why are we wasting
such tremendous potential? I have expressed a strong interest in this with a
number of influential people in our local political and business
organization.   No one has an answer.

What do you think?

Ethan L. Chazin
President & Founder
The Chazin Group LLC

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