Driving innovation from the top of city government June 5, 2019

Driving innovation from the top of city government

June 5, 2019

Title: Business Administrator

City: Jersey City, N.J.

Brian Platt used to run Jersey City’s innovation team, as its first-ever director. Now, he’s earned a promotion into a role where he effectively functions as the city manager. It’s a big change, and one that gives him a platform for spreading the team’s collaborative, community-driven approach to problem solving across City Hall. “We’re validating innovation and confirming how much we appreciate it,” Platt said, noting that he’s pushing city departments to use tools like human-centered design to generate ideas that meet the needs of residents. “It’s coming from the top.”

One project Platt is moving forward dates from his early days with the i-team. To support small businesses and revitalize commercial corridors, the team hatched an idea to turn shipping containers into affordable office space and storefronts. Although a lack of funding held the project back initially, Platt now has been able to secure the containers and have them placed on city property in an underserved business district. Businesses will be able to move into the new incubator space in a few months. In his new role, Platt said, “I get to push the innovation projects farther than they would ever be able to go before.”

Pro Tip: “Leverage your networks of people in your role in other cities. When in doubt, ask them questions. Or ask me!”