Derek Weber is a man with big ideas. He is president of goBRANDgo!, a marketing agency that aims to “empowergize” entrepreneurs.
Armed with a plan to create a nonprofit incubator for startups, Weber approached Saint Louis agencies to turn the former Shepard Elementary School (3450 Wisconsin) into “a kind of entrepreneurial theme park” called The Conflux. According to Weber, “the only way to make [it financially feasible] . . . is through a combination of city, state, and federal tax credit programs.”
Is this really the only way? What about looking for investors and potential donors, exploring less costly options, or evaluating the demand for his project?
Helping entrepreneurs is indeed a noble pursuit, as they help our economy grow. But I find it inconsistent to be a strong supporter of entrepreneurs, yet act in a way that violates the true spirit of entrepreneurship. What sort of example would this publicly funded “entrepreneurial theme park” be setting for the entrepreneurs The Conflux intends to help?
This is a clear indication that our society continues to become more reliant on government assistance every day. Why else would a man who so ardently supports entrepreneurship insist that his nonprofit can only work if it has government support? Superfluous city, state, and federal government tax credit handouts perpetuate a culture that feels entitled to government aid. Still, there are countless nonprofit organizations that rely on hard-earned donations from individuals and organizations. These nonprofits work tirelessly to raise money to support a cause in which they believe — they do not simply rely on the government to fund their mission.
And most nonprofits would likely agree with Vince Lombardi when he said, “the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” But evidently, success also comes before work when you go seeking government subsidies.