Saturday, February 24, 2007

Disconnectivity Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh's Future discusses the region's entrepreneurial culture in terms of the Council on Competitiveness' three categories of success: Creating Angel Networks, Leveraging Knowledge Assets, and Catalyzing Connectivity. Harold Miller contends that Pittsburgh does well in two-out-of-three, lacking the necessary connectivity, which the Council defines as:

The combustion behind innovation often emerges from chance encounters, face-to-face communications, and close interactions among people, ideas and resources. To facilitate these connections, successful regions create bridges that bring together entrepreneurs, academics, labor leaders, company officials and public sector leaders. Some, such as the example below, have launched boundarybreaking initiatives that fuel entrepreneurship at the grass roots.

As Miller notes, LancasterProspers is identified as an exemplar of a connectivity initiative. The stated goal is to network intra-regional assets of talent, experience, and innovation. The idea is that all the components for entrepreneurial success exist within the region, the main barrier being a fragmented community.

Miller buys into the positive-sum (zero-sum?) game between regions concerning promoting entrepreneurship:

The Council on Competitiveness report is intended as a call to action for keeping the United States competitive with other countries in supporting entrepreneurship. But it can also be a call to action to the Pittsburgh Region to be more competitive with other regions in the U.S. in supporting entrepreneurship.

What if a region's assets are less than that of other regions? Richard Florida recently posted his support for regional approaches to maximizing existing creative capacity. But he offers a caveat that Miller, the Council, and LancasterProspers all miss, connectivity with the creative capitals currently attracting the lion's share of national (and global) talent. On that count, Pittsburgh is failing miserably.

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