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A Good Use for MySpace

Youngstown Business Incubator uses MySpace to spread the word [1]With so many exciting Web 2.0 applications, you can quickly get the idea that the only place innovation happens is in Silicon Valley. And maybe Boston and Seattle.

But innovation takes place quietly all over America. It even takes place in former high-flying cities of earlier generations — cities that in their day were the equivalents of Silicon Valley. Cities like Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Akron and others. Including Youngstown.

So it was with some interest that I recently heard from Jim Cossler, the Chief Evangelist for the Youngstown Business Incubator [2]. The Incubator provides office space and a package of services to assist technology startups. As his title suggests, Jim does a lot of evangelizing to spread the word about the Incubator and the technology startups finding a home in the Incubator.

One way he evangelizes is through the Incubator’s own MySpace page [1].

Now, regular readers of Small Business Trends know that I’m not exactly a fan of MySpace for most small businesses. Not that I have anything against MySpace in general. I just think MySpace is the wrong place for most small businesses to prospect for customers.

But I have to say I was impressed when I saw that the Youngstown Business Incubator has a MySpace page. The Incubator uses its page to publicize the latest news about the Incubator’s portfolio startups, giving them a PR boost.

What better place to help get the word out to tech startups that an incubator is available and what it offers. MySpace attracts the next generation of entrepreneurs — young people who in a year or two or three may be looking for assistance to get their tech startups off the ground. And MySpace also attracts the “creative class” that you need to complement a vibrant tech startup environment.

UPDATE: After this article was published, I heard from Jim Cossler again. He had this story to relate:

“The MySpace site, as well as other strategies, are used to reach a critically important group to the Youngstown Business Incubator (YBI) … 18 to 28 year olds who simply do not read or watch mainstream media. Despite extensive publicity about YBI, particularly locally, the vast majority of people in this group have never heard of us.

Within two weeks of our MySpace page going up, we were approached by three recent graduates of Youngstown State University. Each had lived in the Mahoning Valley their entire lives. Each graduated from college with a degree in computer science. Upon graduation, the three formed a software app development company, which is our sweet spot. They have developed a couple of software utilities that we are very excited about and we look forward to working with them on launching the products. But, until they saw our MySpace site, none of them had ever heard of YBI.”