What is a digital townhall? Was it for digital people? Was it conducted digitally? Did it take place in a digital universe?
All those things, mostly.
As members of the creative and technical economies, most of us rarely consider how we may contribute or benefit from civic engagement. Left to our own devices, we usually feel it's up to us alone to grow our companies and see our industry expand from within.
However—at least in Charlotte, a lot of us programming and development types have noticed that while our businesses are booming and unemployment among web and mobile application developers is around 1/2 to a 1/3 of the larger US economy, we've been starting to wonder why the city didn't acknowledge its burgeoning "digital manufacturing" economy more often.
So we invited Charlotte, North Carolina Mayor Anthony Foxx to answer just that.
Mainly, members of Charlotte area startups, web businesses, and tech entrepreneurs were on-hand just to let the mouthpiece of our city know that we exist, we're real, and that we're thriving. That while he's out chasing vaunted "energy, finance and healthcare jobs," existing companies downtown are already driving the region's growth.
If there's anything we hope Mayor Foxx took away from his engagement with members of our tech community, it's simply the idea that Charlotte IS a tech hub. Right now. And all we want him to do is remember to market the city that way. To at least include technology startups at the table when he's out touting the region's benefits or looking for input from local business owners.
Skookum Vice President, Bryan Delaney, likes to say that Charlotte, "...will never keep the young guys from going out to Silicon Valley or NYC and trying to live out their 'Rockstar' years. But once they hit their late 20's or early 30's and want to start a family, those are the last two places they want to stay."
And Charlotte, as it is, bares out that narrative. It's a great place to raise a family, buy a home, and enjoy a real work/life balance. The city is big enough to get lost in but small enough to let you make a dent; it's cosmopolitan enough to attract top talent from all over the country, and there are really smart people here doing amazing things with technology.
As much as Mayor Foxx came here to start a conversation, he was here to learn.
Big ups to everyone who came out to drop that knowledge.