The Myth of the Unicorn as a Community Development Enabler


Every community yearns for that breakout company that changes everything, or does it? Every community development enthusiast looks for that one forcing event that launches the city into the next stratosphere.  Last week, I referenced Newton’s Laws of Physics where I borrowed the idea that a body (community) remains in a uniform motion or straight line unless acted upon by a force. My hypothesis is that there are no huge, life-altering forces that completely alter the momentum of a community. The pushback from many was that a startup that breaks out to achieve something off-the-charts successful could be that force.  I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard a community enthusiast say to me, “we just need a company to break out to put ourselves on the map”. I call this the myth of the unicorn and argue that its powers are significantly less than expected in terms of a community development tool. Unicorns are privately held startup companies valued at $1B or more and to many are the barometer that breakout companies are judged by.  First let me state that any company that gets to this size from startup roots deserves a crap-ton of credit.  There

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