Big Ideas of (the First Half of) 2011

June 17, 2011

I promised in my last post that I would do one final entry on the Prosperity Blog before I leave the PSRC. And, since today is my last day, there’s no time like the present to make that happen. I also promised that this last post would be entirely self-indulgent and nostalgic, and I can think of no post that fits the bill more than the annual Prosperity Blog Year In Ideas feature – the yearly tradition in which I point out to you all how good my thoughts on economic development are, in Top Ten format.

Since it’s only halfway through the year (June 30 is less than two weeks away!), I’ll cut that Top Ten down to Top Five. And so, without further ado…and with no more ado ever again by me on this blog…here are the best practical proposals for improving our region’s business climate and competitiveness (and the most impractical, sky’s-the-limit ideas) I’ve had so far in 2011.

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Celebrating Higher Education Success

June 6, 2011

Ah, the thrills of victory. As you all know, the Prosperity Partnership celebrated the passage of two bills this legislative session that codified the recommendations of the Governor’s Higher Education Funding Task Force into law. And when bills pass, there’s a signing ceremony…which means free pens for everyone involved an opportunity to acknowledge the impact that this legislation will have and the important role that a wide variety of stakeholders played in ensuring that success.

It’s our pleasure here at the Prosperity Blog to give you inside access to exactly what happened during that celebration!

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Weekly FWSR: Fast Cars, Fun Games and Meat-related Typos

May 16, 2011

It’s time once again for my personal favorite feature at the Prosperity Blog: Fun With Search Referrers! It allows us to talk about the issues we care about in a concise, poignant and sometimes hilarious way. How is that different than every Prosperity Blog post you ask? Well thank you for the compliment! Did I mention that you look like you’ve lost some weight?

Anyway, here’s the latest Fun with Search Referrers, featuring fast cars, fun games and meat-related typos.

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Bob Drewel On Higher Ed Success In Olympia

May 11, 2011

I gave credit to the Seattle Times for their articulate explication of the importance of the Legislature’s action on higher ed this week. So, it’s only fair that I give kudos to the PSRC’s own Bob Drewel for his similarly effective communication on the subject.

And again, full text included below for your enjoyment:

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I 100% Agree With the Seattle Times on Higher Ed

May 11, 2011

Since last summer, Prosperity Partnership has been hard at work to ensure action by the 2011 legislature on higher education. We’ve talked about all the reasons why it’s so vital to our economy and to our citizens, but at the end of the day it comes down to this: Washington needs well-educated people to meet the demands of the new economy, and an accessible, affordable and accountable public higher education system allows the people of the state to compete for good jobs and allows companies to find qualified employees.

Which is why we’re so pleased that, yesterday, the Legislature passed and the Governor agreed to sign HB 1795, which enacts a majority of the recommendations of the Governor’s Higher Education Funding Task Force. In the face of huge budget cuts to our public higher education system , this legislation grants our higher education institutions the flexibility to set tuition at rates that balance affordability with access, increase financial aid for low- and middle-income students, and tie state funding to clear, measurable outcomes.

And yet, in the face of achieving our legislative goals for this session, it can be hard to scream, “Hurray, we can raise tuition!” Even with more financial aid and greater accountability, a lot more folks are going to pay more for college…which might mean much more debt upon graduation. I hate to use the term “necessary evil,” but in a time that state revenues are at historic lows and with apparently no appetite for revenue increases, this was clearly the best option to ensure access to the college degrees that we need to compete in the 21st century economy.

Which is why I was so happy to read the Seattle Times editorial this morning. I think this is a clear and concise summary of why this truly is a victory for our state, our economy and, yes, our students. It may violate all the rules of blogdom, but I’m going to quote it in full here:

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Breaking News Shocker! Defunding of Higher Ed Has Consequences!

April 3, 2011

Hmmm…I wonder if this story (which shows that everything we’ve been saying is coming to pass) will have any impact on the state’s decisions on the Governor’s Higher Education Funding Task Force proposal.

A note to the reader: please assume sarcasm in the title of this post. Yours, The Prosperity Blog.

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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Weekly FWSR: Snacks, Bosses & Competitors

March 17, 2011

Two weeks ago, we started a new feature at the Prosperity Blog: Fun With Search Referrers! And yes, I know, we start more features here than a first run movie theater, but what can we say. If it sounds like something that can help us fill blog content, we’ll take it! So, here’s the latest Fun with Search Referrers, featuring snacks, bosses, competitors and more.

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The Worst Best News

February 28, 2011

So, I was at an event on Thursday where it was announced that a new company was moving to our region that would be employing 400 new software developers and engineers. Great rejoicing occurred, especially since this was only hours after the big tanker contract announcement. And look, 400 new jobs is a lot of jobs, especially high demand jobs that will have multipliers throughout the economy.

But I might be the only person in the room who heard this news and got worried. How the heck are we going to find 400 software developers in this region?

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Weekly B-MOW: Next Week’s Legislative Session

February 11, 2011

I’ve bent a lot of rules with this feature. Some of the “Best Meeting of the Week” posts have been post titles made up entirely of acronyms. Some B-MOWs are ties between two meetings. There’s even been a B-MOW that’s a prep meeting for another B-MOW. But this is a new horizon: the Best Meeting of the Week that hasn’t even happened yet! How do I know it’s going to be so great? You’ll have to read below to find out…in the Weekly B-MOW: Next Week’s Legislative Session.

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Let’s Talk about the Washington Pledge Scholarship Proposal

February 10, 2011

Since before the legislative session began, we’ve been talking about the Governor’s Higher Education Funding Task Force, and its proposal to increase the sustainability and accountability of our state’s four-year public higher education system. The proposal, which you can read here, is multi-faceted, but I like to summarize it as an approach to creating a “Triple A higher education system”: accessible, accountable & affordable. The accessibility (linking state support and tuition) and accountability (implementing the Complete to Compete metrics and a performance incentive fund) pieces are fairly straightforward, but the affordability piece is new and therefore harder to understand.

The Prosperity Blog is all about helping you to understand new and unfamiliar economic development related activities, so once again we’re here for you. Let’s talk about that affordability part of the proposal: the creation of the Washington Pledge Scholarship.

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Weekly C-POW: The Myth of Higher Education Efficiency

February 3, 2011

I really enjoyed my first foray into establishing the Prosperity Blog’s “Weekly C-POW: the Controversial Proposal of the Week. Our first one, proposing that we merge a bunch of economic development organizations and set up an “ArtsFund for Economic Development,” got quite the response. And so I’m emboldened to try again and see what happens. This week’s controversial proposition?

People should stop focusing on increasing the efficiency of our state’s higher education system.

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Weekly B-MOW: Legislative Hearings on Higher Ed & Clean Tech

February 3, 2011

Back and better than ever, loyal readers, it’s your weekly look at the glamorous comings and goings of the humble economic development staff here at the Prosperity Partnership – a little segment we like to call “Best Meeting of the Week.” Now, this week’s B-MOW is a tie, which reminds me of the jazz album my friend Dan always joked about making, entitled “In the Event of a Tie.” There would be a picture of a necktie on the album cover, but with the clever double entendre of the sports reference. Of course, in the sports world, a tie is “like kissing your sister,” but here at the Prosperity Blog we have no such resistance. If two meetings are equally great, we’ll B-MOW them both. Which, without further ado, is exactly what’s going to happen now with “Weekly B-MOW: Legislative Hearings on Higher Ed & Clean Tech.”

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What People Around the State Are Saying In Support Of Higher Ed

January 31, 2011

It’s everyone’s favorite kind of blog post: the link round-up! Ok, well, maybe not “favorite,” since it’s without your usual Prosperity Blog witty commentary and insight, but it’s at least super useful to all of you out there who want to stay in the loop on all things higher ed.

Anyway, supporting the Governor’s Higher Education Funding Task Force proposal is the main focus of the Prosperity Partnership coalition during this current legislative session in Olympia. Besides the more than 35 meetings our group has already held with legislators to discuss these issues, it’s been great to see the outflow of support from newspapers across the state. As a public service to our beloved readers, here’s a link round-up of some of the latest and greatest:

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Here’s the Governor’s Higher Education Funding Task Force Proposal. Now What?

January 6, 2011

There’s been a lot of press and a lot of reaction (both positive & negative) to the press conference this past Monday at which the Governor’s Higher Education Funding Task Force presented their recommendations. Your trusty Prosperity Blog has been following this story since the summer, and – while this blog is not for policy-advocacy, per se – I do think that it’s important to clarify a few things that initial reactions to the proposal are getting wrong:

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