In 1995 Michael E Porter, professor at the Harvard Business School wrote an article in the Havard Business Review in which he stated:
” A sustainable economic base can be created in the inner city, but only as it has been created elsewhere: through private, for-profit initiatives and investment based on economic self-interest and genuine competitive advantage—not through artificial inducements, charity, or government mandates.
Economic activity in and around inner cities will take root if it enjoys a competitive advantage and occupies a niche that is hard to replicate elsewhere. If companies are to prosper, they must find a compelling competitive reason for locating in the inner city.
Only attributes that are unique to inner cities will support viable businesses. My ongoing research of urban areas across the United States identifies four main advantages of the inner city: strategic location, local market demand, integration with regional clusters, and human resources. Various companies and programs have identified and exploited each of those advantages from time to time. To date, however, no systematic effort has been mounted to harness them.
Tailored retailing concepts in a broad range of areas such as food, clothing, pharmaceuticals, toys, books, and restaurants could also set off a chain reaction of opportunities: Companies create demand for new types of products, which in turn creates new opportunities for manufacturers of specialized products.
A new breed of professionally managed major businesses will attract spending power and recycle capital within the inner city community.”
Five years ago there were approximately 1,100 vacant lots in Rochester. Today, there are over 2,000 City-owned vacant lots.
These vacant lots can be the answer to many of Rochester’s economic problems.
Through a series of programs that benefit families, veterans, and the entire Rochester community, we can use these lots to provide homes and income producing properties for city residents and veterans.
Phase one of my revitalization plan is the “Tiny Homes” project. We will construct tiny homes in which veterans will reside while tending green house constructions on the same site that will be used to grow natural, chemical free produce. Veterans will own these homes, increasing the tax base in Rochester and community pride.
Partnering with Wegmans, Tops and local restaurants as well as Rochester’s Public Market customers,veterans will be able to fill the demand for naturally grown, low-cost, year round produce that supports a self-sustaining, income producing, entrepreneurial opportunity.
Phase two will allow families, working with Habitat for Humanity, to build homes on vacant lots while tending City owned “Community Gardens” and “City Hives” a natural bee keeping community that will provide comparably priced honey to local food suppliers, restaurants and Public Market shoppers. Once again, increasing home ownership increases the tax base as homeowners take pride in their neighborhood and work to beautify the city.
These two programs work together to create “A new breed of professionally managed major businesses (that) will attract spending power and recycle capital within the inner city community.”
A unique attribute of Rochester is its Arts based community. Eastman School of Music attracts some of the most talented musicians in the country yet Rochester provides few venues in which these students can showcase their talent.
Phase three of the revitalization of Rochester is to create a theatre center in downtown Rochester that incorporates and supports the Broadway Theatre League, Blackfriars, Geva, newly created music venues, entertainment centers, and restaurants along Main Street, from Culver Road to Jefferson Avenue. Creating a positive presence police force will insure the safety of these venues and the clientel that support them.
Phase four will be to rehabilitate the old psychiatric center located on Elmwood Avenue into a rent controlled senior living community. The structure, overlooking the lilacs of Highland Park will include a hospice care center, a family visiting floor and emergency treatment wing. The facility will also house a grocery store, barber shops, beauty parlors, specialty small businesses, and a day care in which residents can volunteer as adoptive grandparents to our youngest citizens.
RTS will be included in this endeavor to provide buses to our seniors for shopping, recreation, and personal services.
Phase five will create four major emergency centers within the four quadrants of the city that will house and emergency call center, police, fire, and emergency response teams providing a presence of safety within each section of the city.
Phase six will promote the proliferation of excellent neighborhood schools that attract students from a one to one-half mile overlapping radius. Busing will be provided for our youngest citizens and teachers will be encouraged to utilize buses for outlying field trips to educational facilities such as Cummings Nature Center and Ganondagan.
This six phase plan for the revitalization of Rochester will provide us with a niche that will be difficult to find in other inner-cities, attracting long term residents and increasing our revenue base. We will become the model other inner-cities use to renew their communities.