Gentlemen of the Road stopover in Bristol

Bristol, TN/VA is a unique place.  “Two States; One State of Mind” is their motto, but navigating two sets of  building regulations, garbage pickups, tax codes and general government type operations can get a bit confusing.

Famous Bristol Sign Across State Street

However, Christina Blevins, executive director of Believe in Bristol, Bristol’s Main Street organization, bridges the gaps everyday in a positive, energetic and infectious manner.

Her coalition’s building skills recently paid off when Mumford & Sons were looking at communities  in which to hold their traveling Gentlemen of the Road music festival.

Already known worldwide for the Rhythm & Roots Reunion and as the Birthplace of Country Music, Bristol had an inate attraction for the band.  However, the ability to coordinate the many moving parts that an all day outdoor festival requires, in addition to the evenings music selections across the street (and consequently across the state line), Bristol cinched the deal.

Already, Bristol is getting tons of press about this event, but the real lesson is to be prepared when opportunity knocks.  Keep building relationships, offer value to all of your partners, understand the needs of your stakeholders, offer assistance without reservation and become indespensible.

Read more about the festival here, here, here, here and hereDiscounted tickets are on sale June 1.

Entrepreneurs. Better with age?

Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of the economy. They’re innovators, experimenters and risk takers, the driving force behind capitalism’s “perennial gale of creative destruction,” in economist Joseph Schumpeter’s evocative metaphor.

So says Chris Farrell in this week’s Bloomberg Businessweek.

But Mr. Farrell goes on to remind us that entrepreneurs are not only young, brash, rule breakers.  They also include older, more seasoned innovators.  Fully 20.9% of all new entrepreneurial ventures are started by people 55-64 years old.

These entrepreneurs may be forming enterprises because they finally have the security to follow their dream, or maybe they were laid off and found finding a new, challenging job toward the end of their career arc to be difficult.  Others may be looking for a little more control of their work-life balance as they make a 20- or 30-year transition to retirement.

Regardless of their reasons, there businesses may be well suited to the scale of your downtown.

Well-wired Winchester is as close to Dulles Airport, in terms of travel time, as downtown D.C. and is better hooked into the Ashburn “home” of the Internet than almost any place in the world.  A transitioning entrepreneur might find the housing, rent and tax rates beneficial, while cherishing the more relaxed lifestyle that a pedestrian-oriented comercial district, closely abutted by historic residential neighborhoods, can provide.

USAToday printed a similar article last month, and Slate published one as far back as 2010, detailing reasons why older entrepreneurs may be more successful, not the least of which is access to capital.

Farrell, too, gives several reasons that older entrepreneurs may have a leg up on their younger competition, but a successful community could use both.  Making sure you are providing the necessary tools and amenities for all entrepreneurs is vital.