Ronald J. Riley, Inventor & Entrepreneur

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Genesee County, Our Community

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I am amazed at how difficult it is to get community leaders and organizations to take advantage of opportunities. Our community is for the most part a perfect example of being able to lead a horse to water - but not being able to make the horse drink.

The most notable example being Mayor Stanley, a perfect example of the Peter principle in action.

I have tried to find ways in which our community could benefit from the unprecedented degree of collaboration which is occurring in the inventor community nation wide. But what I have found is much apathy.

I was a friend of Jerome Lemelson (and I am also friends with many other Inventors  including some Hall of Fame inductees), and I share Jerry's vision of encouraging more inventor entrepreneurs through inventor investment in our educational system. Jerry Lemelson funded a number of programs to promote innovative thinking. He gave away over $30 million dollars before he passed away on October 1, 1997.

His E-Team concept was a natural for Kettering University, but after two years of trying to engage Kettering in Jerry's programs I finally gave up. When Kettering management was confronted about their disinterest in networking with Jerry, their excuse was that his programs were a done deal. Jerry made over $500 million dollars in the last seven years of his life, and his patents could easily bring in two to four fold that over the next ten years. He placed those patents in the Lemelson Foundation to promote education.

When I was at the Lemelson Award Ceremonies, and I have attended all four of them, representatives from other institutions who discovered that I had personal access to Jerry, pursued me as a means of bringing their ideas to his attention, but Kettering blew a chance that these other institutions would kill for.

Two attempts, separated by several years, to engage U of M Flint met with no follow-up on their part.

Mayor Stanley's office was another interesting situation. I work at very high levels of Federal government, yet when I attempted to contact Stanley's office, his staff acted like I should jump through hoops and kiss their behinds. The end result is I wrote them off. I have mentioned this problem to numerous other people who have indicated that Stanley's office is known for this type of activity.

Two bright lights have been Mott College and 4H, both organizations show promise. And it is my intention to encourage inventor involvement with these organizations.

Other duds, at least at the national level, have been both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. And since I only have daughters, and have no experience with local Boy Scouts, I can only comment on Girl Scouts locally. While they do have a few ladies in the Flint office that seem to be well motivated and interested in the big picture, they also have a number of management people who are clearly duds, especially Mrs. Neils, and Mrs. Younger. As a result of our families experience with them, and clear indifference at the national level, I will discourage inventors from investing in the Girl Scout organization.

Where Boy Scouts are concerned wide publicity concerning their willingness to exclude children over religious issues or sexual orientation is in my view deeply disturbing.  As I see it a child is a child,  regardless of other issues and all children need to be nurtured and encouraged to achieve their full potential.  I cannot, dare I say will not work with any organization who puts dogma above any child's interests.

It seems to me that a very basic problem which all human institutions suffer, is that the older and larger they are - the more likely it is that they have lost track of their mission. I believe this is because they are more interested in preserving their petty bureaucracy than in serving their constituents. I have found that is the case with church, government, corporate, and other organizations.

There are a number of local people who deserve credit for their vision and effort to help the community.

They are:

John Colling (Retired PR person for Kettering)
William Donahue 
David Fenech
Larry Ford
Jim Minca
Eric Rettenmund Former resource development person at Mott Community College and the only person who actually tried to make the program fly.
Linda Roeser (Reconized for stepping up to the plate to make the children's invention contest which Doug Hougan envisioned and funded a reality.)
Bob Ross (Now retired, but the founder of the Inventors Council of Mid Michigan and the person who roped Linda Roeser into working her arse off to make the children's invention contest a reality.)




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