Entrepreneur on board:
Robert Herz is the new director fo the South Side Innovation Center on South Salina Street in Syracuse.
Editor's note: This is the third in a series of interviews with people prominent in areas on the agenda for the city under a new administration. This week the discussion of development is with Bob Herz, the new director of the South Side Innovation Center.
You started with journalism, moved to state Senate staff work, now you're director of a business incubator. Has this been a logical progression?
No. The whole thing's been serendipity. My semi-public career really started at the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop. My wife said, "Let's go back to Syracuse." I start looking for a job with an MFA in creative writing, poetry. Well, well, well let me tell you. There was that thing in the Seventies where you were "overqualified." I started lying on the applications. I wanted a job so bad, I just wanted to be able to even turn one down.
I wound up being matre'd at the Hotel Syracuse for awhile, flipping burgers for awhile down in the Valley, doing some pipe fitter stuff for awhile. I was all over the place. Bill Cotter hired me, and suddenly, here I am on nightside at the Syracuse Newspapers on one of those old gigantic Underwoods, pounding away. Doing obits. Doing general assignment stuff.
One day I make up an obit about a guy in Utica who dies accidentally falling into a cement truck. Mario Rossi, the night editor, reads it and is about to process it when I tell him I made it up. He says, "I think you're ready for dayside." I spend a wonderful year there learning the craft. The Business Journal called one day and said they'd pay more money and let me go home at night. I did that for a year.