I was intrigued by the New York Times article on Diane Hendricks and her revitalization efforts in Beloit, WI. Diane Hendricks is the same woman who in 2011 petitioned Governor Scott Walker to make Wisconsin a red state, to get rid of collective bargaining. “What can we do to help you?” Help to the governor. Not help to the people already employed by her various businesses. Not help to the collective bargainers working on their behalf because she was not.
And so, hello? What is this? Do I need to revise my inner cynic? Silence my critic? Is this article evidence that “with great wealth comes great responsibility”¹ and Ms. Hendricks with great wealth is stepping up to the plate with a home run for great responsibility? Changing things up for the citizens of Beloit, WI?
Ah, but no. While I give Ms. Hendricks major props for rehabbing buildings and creating an environment to attract start-ups in Beloit, Diane Hendricks has not changed. Diane Hendricks’ dollars are focused on buildings — on a “vision of how things can be” in real estate. She is running an episode of “Fixer Upper” on a city-wide scale.
The task remains for someone else, or maybe it will be many someones to do the truly heavy lifting — the job creation, the running of businesses, the injection of sustaining and sustainable income flow to the local economy for the benefit of people who live there. That workout is left to the entrepreneurs and job creators she is aiming to attract. At the Comply365 offices a sign reads “World Class People” and maybe for Beloit, they will also look in Beloit? It is part of the world.
And so I put Beloit on watch. It’s an economic petri dish. It’s admirable that the self-made billionaire injects money into the place and it is a place to start. But, for Beloit, I hope someone with a vision bigger than real estate steps up for the people.
And Beloit is not alone.
As of this writing, the unemployment in Beloit remains high, 25% of Beloit lives in poverty.²
² Stevenson, Alexandra. “In a Weary Wisconsin Town, A Billionaire-Fueled Revival”. The New York Times. 05 August 2017. Web. 7 August 2017.