Economic development

U.S. may be sliding downhill economically

Although I meet more economic developers these days who are beginning to understand the world is changing (a good thing), I usually find after a brief conversation with them that many of them are determined to keep doing the same old thing--they just expect different results now (one definition of insanity). Part of the problem is a belief that nothing much has really changed, but articles like this one in the Wall Street Journal suggest otherwise.

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Charleston's Digital Corridor worth studying

Charleston, South Carolina's very successful Digital Corridor program is worth careful study. Ernest Andrade, the manager of the program, understands that economic development today is about making and nurturing relationships, not water and sewer. Here is a short excerpt from Andrade's article that summarizes where economic development should be focused today:

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Attracting talent, not businesses

I was fortunate enough to have dinner the other night with a very gifted and smart county administrator, who told me this:

"Our job is to attract talent to our region, not businesses. If we have talented people, we can do anything. And to attract talented people, we have to have the amenities that they want and expect, like broadband."

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Power, quality of life, and broadband

For some time, I have been telling communities that quality of life and affordable broadband are the drivers of economic development in rural areas of the country. But over the past few months, I have come to believe that there is a third factor: reliable electric power. As we store more and more data and dish more of that data out to a global audience via our Web sites and businesses, reliable electric power is a critical resource that is needed to keep electricity-hungry servers humming.

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Fiber transforms local economies

The magazine Killer App has a must read article on how fiber infrastructure has turned the rust belt economy of Wales (abandoned coal mines and steel mills) into a global powerhouse. The key: a steady investment in fiber over a period of years turned into a magnet for Knowledge Economy businesses looking for a reliable workforce, reasonable cost of living, and affordable broadband.

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Broadband and electric power, not water and sewer

I have written extensively on the need for communities to be able to market affordable broadband and great quality of life to businesses, but there may be a third leg that can be added: reliable electric power. We take this for granted, but as businesses are increasingly powered by computers and network equipment, their need for reliable and resilient electric power becomes far more important than water and sewer.

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The "whoops" report: entrepreneurs are creating jobs

The Wall Street Journal reported today (page A18) that the U.S. Department of Labor has revised job figures for the period between March, 2005 and March, 2006. New jobs were undercounted, and Labor has added 810,000 more new jobs to the count to bring the three year total to 6.6 million new jobs. The Journal is calling this a "...whoops, we found a whole lot of jobs we missed."

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Population: 351 (and fiber)

Here is a story about a woman who the the Director of R&D for a high tech multimedia firm. She lives in Winthrop, Washington, and sleeps in a teepee. Now I know many of you will probably stop reading right there, but this article highlights a growing trend and the power of fiber to change rural communities. From the article, here is a description of Winthrop:

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Better living in small towns

This article was sent to me by a county administrator who has long recognized the potential of small towns, good quality of life, and broadband. Forbes has selected 150 small towns and small cities and divided them into six categories, based on amenities and quality of life. It will be no surprise to many of you that the one thing Forbes has identified as a key enabler of economic growth is not water, sewer, or industrial parks.

It is affordable broadband.

Economic development news

If you have not already made EDPro part of your regular blog news network, you should. Ed Morrison, an economic development professional in Ohio, has the best roundup of Knowledge Economy news and information, bar none. He is also promoting the notion of Open Source Economic Development, which stresses the importance of regional collaboration and a strong focus on innovation. It's great reading.

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Roanoke tries to attract youth

Roanoke is a city near Blacksburg, and the city's demographics are skewed, like many rural towns and cities, toward older people. The City recently decided to stop wringing its hands about the paucity of young people and actually do something. First they hired someone whose primary job responsibility is to solve the problem, and then gave him free rein.

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The work from home movement

When I talk to communities about the need to view residential neighborhoods as business districts because of the growth in home-based workers and businesses, economic developers often get upset. They get upset because having lots of small businesses driving a local economy does not fit the old Manufacturing Economy model of just trying to attract businesses from other regions.

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Do high energy prices help rural areas?

Jerry Fuhrman, who writes from rural southwest Virginia, has an interesting observation today that I think is applicable to many rural areas of the country.

He notes that one of Virginia's main exports is wood (mostly to China), and one of Virginia's main imports is furniture (mainly from China). Fuhrman's question is how will high energy prices affect the cost of goods, since it takes a lot of energy to haul wood to China, turn it into furniture, and then haul it back to the U.S?

Small businesses hurt by lack of broadband

Chicago area small businesses are hurt by the lack of broadband. But that is a story that applies to small businesses everywhere in the U.S., but rural businesses suffer the most.

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Web search: get on page one

A new study confirms what most people already know intuitively, but it is always nice to have data to back it up: Most people stop looking at search results at page three, and many expect to find what they want on page one.

Kentucky "gets" economic development

The state of Kentucky is beginning to get the hang of a 21st century Knowledge Economy economic development strategy. From this article[link no longer available] (hat tip to EDPro), here is Kris Kimel, president of the Kentucky Science & Technology Corp:

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Blogging and economic development

I generally get a cool reception when I tell communities that they need to promote community portals and local blogging. It just does not sound like something that is going to bring jobs and businesses into a region.

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Lack of broadband hurts business recruitment

A recent story in the Washington Post (registration required, unfortunately) discusses how the lack of broadband is hurting business and employee recruitment in rural areas. Here is a key statement from the Telework Consortium, a group that helps businesses set up work from home programs.

"I think Loudoun County needs to look at broadband as being another utility as important as electricity and the telephone."

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USDA's Dorr says quality of life a key factor for rural communities

Tom Dorr is one of the most knowledgeable people in the Federal government when it comes to rural issues. At a seminar in Iowa, Dorr discussed a key advantage that he thinks rural communities have when attracting entrepreneurs--quality of life (hat tip to EDPro).

Georgia creates "Entrepreneur Friendly" communities

Georgia has created Entrepreneur Friendly communities (hat tip to the excellent EDPro blog).

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