Can you identify unrealized business opportunities in your town? Bill Harris, a speaker at the upcoming TPA Newspaper Executives’ Retreat, wants to know.
Brimming with ideas to share. Entrepreneur. Business incubation consultant. People connector. Such words move toward a description of Bill Harris. But he describes himself this way: Obsessed with newspapers.
Early points in his long career included stints as an aide to the powerful (LBJ) and the wealthy (H.L. Hunt). A keen observer of business behavior and a participant in it for decades since, Harris of Welsh Harris Capital in Dallas, brings his hands-on perspectives to San Antonio on June 22, when he will speak at the TPA Newspaper Executives’ Retreat at the Westin Riverwalk Hotel.
Texas newspapers and the communities they serve are snowflakes, Harris says: all are unique. But something he notices again and again in his travels (he stops to buy and read a newspaper in every town) is unrealized opportunity. That’s one of many things he plans to share with TPA members.
A newspaper publisher would do well to pause and ask, he said, “Am I a publisher, or am I an entrepreneur?” If the answer isn’t “both” it’s a signal to Harris that suggests there’s likely to be untapped opportunity within your city limits or county lines.
A newspaper publisher’s position in a community affords insights that can spur new businesses to life or expand or redirect established ones. Wherever Harris finds empty storefronts or second-story quarters above them, he imagines start-ups. It’s all about identifying talent, usable space and investors to get a community-benefitting venture off the ground.
“I am in the business of filling empty buildings, and in fact, ‘Filling Empty Buildings’ is the title of a book I’m writing. Some economic development corporations either aren’t working hard enough to bring in new businesses or are they are just missing what’s right in front of them. They can try a few things, and that’s what I’m going to talk about.” Harris said.
“I could not be a pro in your industry,” Harris admits, but adds, “There is no one who loves it more than I do. I am an enthusiastic advocate of print newspapers.”