Economic and Community Development
Bruce Katz on Metro Regions and the Next Economy
Watch the Brookings Institution’s Bruce Katz in a video for Time explain how metros must leverage their assets and invest in infrastructure to prosper in the globally competitive 21st Century economy. This is gut check level stuff.
Some salient quotes:
“There is no national economy… national economies are just networks of metropolitan economies.”
“For metropolitan areas to succeed then need to know who they are in the global market. They need to know what makes them distinctive.”
“If we want to compete in this century we have to build an economy that is driven by exports.”
Small Businesses and Sustainability
In a letter yesterday to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) president and long time ACCE board member Steve Millard explained why sustainability is equally important for small businesses as it is for large companies. Here’s an excerpt:
While large businesses can invest heavily in energy efficiency and sustainability, smaller enterprises are often worried about making investments that may not pay short-term dividends. Fortunately, they stand to gain just as much, if not more, from sustainability. Small businesses pay 35 percent more for energy, and energy costs account for their second-highest non payroll cost. Investing in energy efficiency and sustainability can help cut costs, increase revenue and improve their marketability.
He goes on to applaud the city’s new sustainable business procurement ordinance, which provides a 4% bid discount to Green Plus certified sustainable local companies bidding for city contracts, and mentions the work COSE has done to help businesses meet their energy needs.
Millard closes with a bold proclamation:
“Green is not a fad. It is becoming an imperative for businesses of all types.”
Educate for the Economy
In a recently adopted five year strategic plan, the Dallas Regional Chamber listed education improvements as one of their five organizational priorities. Their education goals include raising graduation rates for the Dallas Independent School district by 13%, increasing the percentage of advanced degree holders in the region by 5%, and setting detailed goals for college and career readiness among high school graduates.
Their rationale for adopting this goal: “…education is critical to developing a strong regional workforce that supports economic prosperity.”
The move has won the Chamber praise in the local media. Here is a excerpt from an October 11th editorial in the Dallas Morning News:
In a five-year blueprint released Friday, the Dallas Regional Chamber has wisely recognized that North Texas has to step up to this challenge or risk falling behind in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. The chamber's plan focuses on attracting companies in skilled growth industries, such as technology and health care. Most impressive: It makes it clear that the region can't prosper unless K-12 education improves and that the chamber is ready to take on this issue.
We applaud the chamber's sense of urgency to prod North Texas businesses to step out of their corporate silos and make educational excellence an economic development priority.
Kotkin on Smaller Metro Growth
In an article for Forbes last week, noted author and thinker on urban development, geography and demographics Joel Kotkin explains why he believes America’s smaller metropolitan regions will grow more over the coming decades than our largest cities. Examples of regions poised for growth are Raleigh/Durham, San Antonio, Salt Lake City and Calgary.
According to Kotkin, the key factors that drive growth are affordable housing, ease of doing business and short commute times. This is food for thought as your chamber sets its regional development priorities. While I don’t dismiss anything Kotkin says, I happen to believe that universities, walkable downtowns, and cultural amenities also play a big role in a region’s long term growth and prosperity.
Nashville Workforce Trends
This week I presented the ACCE Chamber Trends show to two different audiences in Texas. When I get to the Economic Development side there is a big question mark beside workforce training, and it has been that way for nearly two years now. The question mark signifies the difficulty to foresee employment levels and talent needs in the middle to long term because the economy is in such a state of flux. My comments on this matter generally elicit a lot of head bobbing. I suspect, however, that an audience in Nashville, TN would have a lot more to say about this issue.
The Nashville (TN) Chamber of Commerce recently released a comprehensive regional workforce study. In addition to projecting the region’s demographic and educational attainment trends for the coming decade, it also forecasts employment demand in macro sectors.
If government was run like a business, it would take advantage of the current economic climate and invest in infrastructure. That is Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein’s argument in the cover story for the Sunday business section.
His case for immediate investment is that crumbling roads, bridges, schools, sewers and an antiquated air traffic control system are economic problems and the labor, material and capital need to fix those problems will never come cheaper.
Klein anticipated my first question (and probably yours) and addressed it thusly:
“But what about the debt, you might ask? Well, what about it? Delaying a dollar of needed infrastructure repairs is no different than racking up a dollar of debt.”
Quotable Quotes from the IEDC Conference
ACCE has launched Creating Prosperity – a blog to discuss economic and community development trends and topics. Check out Creating Prosperity for information, links and commentary on workforce, job creation, business attraction, innovation, entrepreneurship and much more.
To kick off Creating Prosperity, here are a few quotable quotes I jotted down earlier this week at the IEDC Annual Conference in Columbus, Ohio.
“People are drawn to places with good education and abundant culture.”
- Rocco Landesman, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts on why art is an economic development imperative.
“Start up businesses that begin in an incubator stay in business two years longer on average than other start ups.”
- Food for thought from David Monkman from the National Business Incubation Association
Four quotes from the workshop: What Would Google Do? Rethinking Economic Development in the Internet Age:
“If you can’t be found (on the first page of a Google search) you don’t exist.”
“Do what you do best and link to the rest.”
“In the Google age, middlemen are doomed.”
“Value is something that if you give it away, you end up having more.”
"My final remarks at every business retention meeting: 'Don't plan, struggle or celebrate alone.'"
- Good advice for any chamber from Dan Preston at the Bowling Green (KY) Area Chamber of Commerce.