A Tuna Salad Company, A Seafood Company or a Canned Goods Company?

April 2, 2011

That’s the old Branding 101 example of “you are what you say you are.” The idea being that Starkist or Bumblebee will be most successful expanding their product offerings if it fits in with a defined brand that people understand. You might be open to buying Starkist brand canned salmon or even Bumblebee fresh tuna steaks. Conversely, you probably wouldn’t want to buy tuna fish from a motor oil company, just because they branded themselves as a business that “makes things in containers.” So there are limits to everything.

We see a lot of that going on in our region. Boeing isn’t an “airplane company,” but rather an aerospace company and so you’re open to buying their tankers, and satellites and missiles. Microsoft is very much in the middle of defining themselves as a “platform company” that provides the tools upon which you create – whether that be word documents, video games, mobile apps or building energy management software.

These are the things that I thought of when I saw this article about BMW investing in IT start-ups as a way to facilitate defining themselves as a “mobility company.” Is this more Chicken of the Sea canned salmon or Pennzoil tuna?*

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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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Let’s Talk Ag

June 23, 2010

When it comes to economic development, Prosperity Partnership has always recognized the importance of working not only regionally but also statewide.  That’s why we have WSU President Elson Floyd as one of our co-chairs, it’s why we run cross-state bus tours, and it’s why so many of the organizations we help launch – Aerospace Futures Alliance, Washington Clean Tech Alliance, etc. – are statewide. Of course, the most important reason is that we actually share a lot of industry clusters: clean tech, aerospace, IT, life sciences, trade, tourism and military all have big roles in both the central Puget Sound economy as well as the state’s. But there’s one thing we don’t mutually focus on: agriculture. Or do we? Read the rest of this entry »


Measuring the Regional Economy – Clusters, Subclusters and Occupations

March 15, 2010

Boy, it seems like only yesterday that the Regional Economic Strategy was created – a five year plan for focusing our collective action on the region’s leading industry clusters and the foundations that support them. That was 2005, which means that the clock is ticking on our five year strategy. So, unless the economy is perfect in December 2010, we should probably start thinking about what the next Regional Economic Strategy looks like. And, as always, I have some thoughts. Read the rest of this entry »