Creating a hub of tech activity cannot happen artificially. The right ecosystem needs to be cultivated with a passionate, diverse set of individuals and the right climate for business development.
In the last year, we were fortunate enough to welcome a larger corporate presence into Camden, N.J. Initially there was apprehension, and we struggled with the idea that state tax breaks offered trickle-down value to the local community. A rush to judgment? Possibly. But history has trained us to avoid unchecked optimism.
However, in 2015, it’s not the same old narrative. Partners like Subaru and Starbucks have helped our organization — Hopeworks ‘N Camden — design the agenda for a citywide experiment.
It’s official: Camden’s first-ever hackathon is slated for Saturday, Oct. 3.
The blending of community and corporate entities is an essential pillar needed to create an entrepreneurial movement. If we can inspire the next generation of tech enthusiasts and small business owners, Camden can work together to heal and grow.
One group of advanced youth and technologists will “hack” solutions to the problems of some of Camden’s most promising nonprofits. In another room, young people from Camden will hear the stories of how tech entrepreneurs got their start, showing them that they, too, can do it. In a third room, youth will learn “Coding 101” with workshops and demonstrations led by area experts.
Our host, Camden Colab, is an inspirational venue where ideas are molded into reality on a regular basis. On Oct. 3, Camden youth, building solutions to Camden problems with Camden know-how and technology, will show the region how it can be done.
Granted, I do not know everything there is to know about coding. But the skills are at our youth’s capable fingertips. For 15 years, Hopeworks has helped use education, technology and entrepreneurship to partner with more than 2,000 young men and women as they identify and earn a sustainable future. We’re hosting our 15th Anniversary Celebration at the Downtown Club on Oct. 15.
The real purpose of our city’s first hackathon is to integrate Camden’s growing business community with the exuberant, motivated talent pool at their disposal. This is a ripe opportunity to construct a path between job and job seeker.
The youth we work with on a daily basis are learning more than technology. They are earning serious credentials in the process. Future developers are developing the ability to be more resourceful, and all of the youth participating are learning the skills to build, heal and grow their hometown.
Camden is willing and able to serve as a springboard to entrepreneurial and startup success. Jake Stein and Robert Moore of RJMetrics, who incubated their business at the Rutgers Camden Business Incubator, were the forefathers of a tech movement taking shape today.
So, what are we missing? Your opinion is valuable and any comments can be left below. Let’s get to work.