Friday, July 01, 2011

Geography Of The Next American Economy

I'll start today's post in the heart of the TechBelt, Warren, Ohio:

Ted Theofrastous of NorTech, a regional nonprofit organization involved [Tech Belt Energy Innovation Center] development, said laboratory equipment offered at the facility will be unique and will help emerging energy technologies develop across the region.

Pogue hopes to have six or more businesses located in the center by this time next year, and he said the center could be a driving force in attracting a new, highly educated work force to the region.

[U.S. Rep Timothy J. Ryan, D-Niles,] agreed, saying the region from Cleveland to Akron to Pittsburgh could benefit from the facility.

Ryan has his economic geography inside out. The facility will allow Warren to benefit from innovation clusters in Cleveland, Akron, and Pittsburgh.

Greater Youngstown tying its fortunes to Cleveland and Pittsburgh is critical. That's what William J. Holstein might argue:

The Next American Economy: Blueprint for a Real Recovery includes nine case studies of Boston, Pittsburgh, Orlando, San Diego, Corning, N.Y., Austin, the state of North Carolina, Atlanta and Cleveland. Holstein uses those case studies to offer pragmatic insights to governments, businesses, universities and community colleges and others on how to overcome America's economic difficulties and launch a new wave of innovation.

A review of the book in the Financial Times indicates Silicon Valley is the model. That sparked a thought about all the criticism concerning the attempt to be the next Silicon Valley. Might we be too impatient?

I have in mind, of course, Pittsburgh. The shift in media coverage is dramatic. The change has been slow and hard, even painful. As for the positive press, Pittsburgh is no Silicon Valley. Not even close.

So what? The city is still a blueprint for not only America's recovery, but Russia's. Coming up far short of Silicon Valley (or Austin, or the Research Triangle) doesn't mean failure. It doesn't mean that Pittsburgh should stop trying, either.

I've tracked a number of initiative purporting to develop a tech or innovation corridor. None has the potential of Cleveland-Pittsburgh. Ironically, Congressman Tim Ryan and Greater Youngstown are driving the integration. The Mahoning Valley is a hotbed of policy innovation. (See Phil Kidd) This is the birthplace of the TechBelt vision.

The development can't happen fast enough. Cynics continue to poo-poo the lack of progress and spotlight the persistent economic distress. To most, nothing has changed.

That's the world of mesofacts. (Via Chris Briem's Twitter feed) Pittsburgh is still Shittsburgh in places such as Wichita:

But there was one remaining question from [Sedgwick County Commissioner Karl Peterjohn]: Why is Visioneering Wichita headed to Pittsburgh Sept. 14 to 16 for this year’s city-to-city visit?

The idea of the visits generally is to learn what’s working elsewhere and whether it can work in Wichita. Peterjohn says he doesn’t necessarily see Pittsburgh as the best model.

“Pittsburgh is in decline,” Peterjohn said. “I’m wondering why Visioneering would be looking as a model to a community in decline, as opposed to going to places where the economy is stronger.”

Pittsburgh is not in decline. But if you are interested in a population boom, then look elsewhere. Good luck with that. Little wonder why Wichita hired Next Generation Consulting. As for Peterjohn, he is a devotee of the tax regime migration school. People vote with their feet. Taxes are too high. Pennsylvania is anti-business. Pittsburgh is a loser, circa 1983.

On the flip side is Holstein. Seeing Pittsburgh and Cleveland lumped in with San Diego and Boston must surprise most people, none more so than residents of Cleveland. I've noticed in both TechBelt poles a tendency of outsiders and newcomers to sing the praises of each city. Natives, too, are stuck in the past.

Pittsburgh has already served as a positive role model for many American cities. People are beginning to catch onto the doings in Cleveland (e.g. land bank program). Don't laugh:

In his new book, The Next American Economy: Blueprint For a Real Recovery, author William J. Holstein shows that MADE IN AMERICA is still very much alive. Caterpillar (No. 13 on the list) and Beoing (its 747 is No. 29), have done a remarkable job navigating through, and succeeding in, the new global economy. He cites cities like San Diego for genomics, Pittsburgh for robotics, and Cleveland for electronics as hubs of world-class innovation.

World-class innovation. Cleveland. Pittsburgh. Surely Warren, Ohio would benefit from tapping into that.

1 comment:

DBR96A said...

Convincing people that Pittsburgh ain't the shithole that it was made out to be 25 years ago is about like convincing people that Ben Roethlisberger is an elite NFL QB: there's been noticeable headway recently, but there's still plenty of baseless and unfounded resistance.