Weekly B-MOW: Seattle Chamber Intercity Study Mission

March 26, 2011

Every year, the Seattle Chamber does an “intercity study mission,” bringing regional business, government and community leaders to a peer city for a three day exploration of similarities, differences and, most importantly, the best practices that we can take back and copy in our own region. This past week, a group of us traveled for this year’s trip to San Jose for an Intercity Study Mission to Silicon Valley.

The reason to do a study mission to Silicon Valley is obvious: as much as we fancy ourselves as a leading region for innovation, we pale in comparison to the sheer breadth and depth and magnitude of what has come out of that region – HP, Google, Adobe, Apple, Yahoo…the list goes on and on. So, what are those things that we can take from them?

Here are my top three takeaways:

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Clusters Don’t Work

March 22, 2011

According to Europe’s Centre for Economic Policy Research, at least. According to them, an “analysis of 1,604 companies in the five largest Norwegian cities found that regional and national clusters are “irrelevant for innovation.” On the contrary, international cooperation or “global pipelines” were identified as the main drivers of innovation.”

Oh no! Well, this officially marks the end of the Prosperity Partnership and the Regional Economic Strategy.

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Money for Metropolitan Business Planning

March 22, 2011

One thing that we’ve lost focus on during the two years of the Metropolitan Business Plan process is that it’s not just about BETI. Yes, yes, we love our idea for the Building Energy-Efficiency Testing & Integration Center and Demonstration Network, and its proposal to catalyze our local energy efficiency IT cluster through validating these technologies in real-world settings. But although we identified the idea of BETI through the Metropolitan Business Planning process, the MBP goals are much broader.

And the exciting thing is that one of the big goals – funding of regions through Metropolitan Business Plans – may be coming to fruition!

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Weekly B-MOW: Washington Innovation Summit

March 18, 2011

I go to a lot of events. Many of them are boring. But I put my neck out a few weeks ago and said that the Washington Innovation Summit would not be. And I was right. I mean, really interesting panels, very forward thinking topics and some great keynotes. If you haven’t heard Geoffrey Moore speak on the transition in enterprise IT from “systems of record” to “systems of engagement,” then you don’t know what the next major business opportunity in the global economy will be.

Apparently, the whole day was video recorded, and will be available on the Technology Alliance website. And you can follow the audience’s questions and comments on Twitter via the hashtag #WAInnovation (including several insightful tweets from yours truly and a back and forth on how funny Bill McSherry is).

But if you want an immediate taste, I took a video of the opening panel, featuring some of the state’s economic development luminaries talking about how we continue to invest in economic development in a time of scarce public money.

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Two Words That Go Great Together: “Innovation” and “Summit”

March 2, 2011

The Prosperity Blog doesn’t usually shill for events. We like to keep our integrity so that you see us as an unbiased observer of the regional economic development scene. (Except for all that shilling we do for our own initiatives and priorities, but hey, man’s gotta eat.)

So, given that general practice of restraint, you will hopefully take it with some seriousness when we step out of that restriction and tell you that you probably don’t want to miss the 2011 Washington Innovation Summit on March 18. Seriously.

There’s two reasons we’re encouraging you to attend. First, the presenters – leading technology, business and policy experts like Crossing the Chasm author Geoffrey Moore and Larry Smarr, Founding Director of the California Institute for Telecommunications & Information Technology – plus a who’s who of panelists from the region and state: Steve Davis, Bruce Kendall, Ed Lazowska, Rick LeFaivre, Rogers Weed, Kim Zentz and a ton more (including our own Bob Drewel). By the way, note that I didn’t tell you who that last list of people are…if you don’t know, then you definitely need to attend!

The second reason you should probably go, is that it’s all about the issues we care most about here at the Prosperity Blog:

  • How the state is fusing support for innovation into its overall economic development strategy;
  • How emerging information technologies are dramatically changing our economy, presenting our state with new challenges as well as exciting new opportunities;
  • How the very nature of the enterprise is evolving, and how we should respond; and
  • How our industries can grow exports and strengthen global relationships.

As we’ve said before, innovation is like coolness, so be there or be square. And, as an added incentive, if you find me at the event and mention this blog post, you’ll get a sincere handshake from me…and if you’re lucky, I might even touch your shoulder with my left hand while shaking with my right. That’s how real economic developers do it.


It’s a(n Economic Development) War Out There

January 13, 2011

One of the slightly humorous/very telling things that happened at the Brookings Chicago Summit was a interesting linguistic choice by the folks from Munich. As I’ve mentioned, on the first day of that event, each of the three Metropolitan Business Plan regions presented on their plans paired with presentations from international regions: Ohio with the industrial economy of Cleveland, Twin Cities with the high talent/quality of life economy of Barcelona…and Puget Sound paired with the high tech economy of Munich.

It was actually a decent pairing, especially because of their focus on aerospace and clean tech. And yet, there was an important difference.  When Munich was discussing their comprehensive economic development initiative, they didn’t use “strategy” or “plan” like we do. Instead, they referred to it as the Offensive Zukunft Bayern: the “Offensive for the Future of Bavaria”!

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Should the State of Washington Privatize Economic Development?

December 29, 2010

In the state of Washington, we have a state department known as the Department of Commerce. It is a government department, like many others, such as Ecology or Revenue, and it does various government functions, like invest in infrastructure and implement policy. But unlike many other state departments, it has a lot of responsibility to work directly with businesses in supportive ways, recruiting and retaining companies and fostering job creation. And so, like in other states, it’s an interesting question to ask: should it be privatized?

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