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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“The Goal of Business isn’t to Create Jobs.”

May 6, 2011

Yesterday was the kick-off meeting of the Regional Economic Strategy Technical Advisory Group…or, as I like to call them, the RESTAG (you already know from things like B-MOW and REDEW that I’m terrible at acronyms). For those of you who have been reading about our preparations to start developing a new Regional Economic Strategy, you’ll be happy to hear that we’ve moved from talking about doing it to actually starting!

And start, we did. With about 50 people packing the PSRC Boardroom, we introduced our consultants – TIP Strategies of Austin, TX – and got people thinking about the major issues that are going to frame our thinking about the strategy: things like the increasing divergence in economic opportunity between people with and without college education, the impacts of our aging workforce and trends (both positive and negative) with regard to manufacturing.

But what stood out the most from the TIP Strategies presentation wasn’t any of those, but rather a point so simple yet fundamental that it was almost revolutionary to hear. And, with full attribution to them, I wanted to share it with all of you: “the goal of business isn’t to create jobs.”

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One More Post about the Puget Sound and Cars

April 8, 2011

So I was on the treadmill at the gym this morning at 6 am (who’s the man!) watching SportsCenter, and on comes a commercial for Callaway golf clubs. I mean, it’s the Masters this weekend in Augusta, so no surprise, right? Except, the Callaway commercial opens with a picture of a Lamborghini and starts talking about their major strategic partnership between the sports car and the driver (ha! double entendre! but I’m referring to the golf club.) What, you may ask, is the connection?

Composite materials, of course. And where is Lamborghini developing their composites? The University of Washington. In fact, it’s mentioned in this Seattle Times article: “…the lab is a sort of hub for Lamborghini to work with the school, Boeing and other partners, including golf-club manufacturer Callaway and Intel.”

And so I’ll say it one more time. Our region has a secret automotive industry cluster that no one talks about!

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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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Is There Too Much Economic Development Happening in the Puget Sound Region?

January 21, 2011

I sort of wanted to title this post “Weekly C-POW: the Controversial Proposal of the Week.” We already have our “weekly” B-MOW and REDEW features, so what’s one more? But I’m not sure that I want to start ending each week with pronouncements that will leave people angry over the weekend. We’ll see how this one goes. For now, here it is: “I think that we might have too many economic development organizations in the four-county region.” Let’s discuss.

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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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B-MOW: RESTAG

December 21, 2010

I did it! I finally did it! A blog post title made up entirely of acronyms! Wow, what an incredible sense of accomplishment and relief. It couldn’t have been done without all of you, our loyal Prosperity Blog readers. Wait, what? You have no idea what I’m talking about? Ah. Well then, I’ll explain.

I know that you all know about the weekly Best Meeting of the Week (or B-MOW) posts that we (try to) do every Friday (or so) to give you some insight into the exciting lives of the Prosperity Partnership’s economic development staff. But you may not be aware of the RESTAG: the Regional Economic Strategy Technical Advisory Group that we’ve formed to help us in our work to develop the region’s next long-range, collaborative economic development action plan. The RESTAG met last week, and two things in particular happened at that meeting that got me really energized for our work ahead:

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What I’m Thankful For – Economic Development Addition

November 24, 2010

So, we here at the Prosperity Blog love cheese, in all its forms. Cheesy 80’s music? I’m listening to Flock of Seagulls right now! Delicious dairy goodness? I’m a conference attendee! (Ed. Note: Do you think this is the Society for American Cheese or the American Society for Cheese?) But most specifically, we’re not ashamed of being cheesy with our emotions, especially around the holidays. And the cheesiest thing you can do at Thanksgiving – besides potato gratin – is talk about what you’re thankful for. So here goes: I am really grateful that our region and state are a great place for economic development! Read the rest of this entry »


Getting Around “Lending of Credit”

November 12, 2010

Every economic development blog in the state of Washington has, at some point, railed against the “lending of credit” provision in the state’s constitution. Which is actually a pretty good pun, considering the lending of credit provision was put in as a backlash against “greedy” railroad barons. Zinger! Anyway, you know what I’m talking about: the prohibition against direct investment of public funds into private enterprises. Which is a big deal around the country in economic development, where cities and states will throw money at a company to get it to move there. Sometimes that works out, sometimes it’s money that they don’t quite have.

A lot of folks in the state talk about making a run at a constitutional amendment, but I’ve never seen anyone actually make a go of it. Not that there’s a lot of money in the state government to lend to private companies anyway. But there are actually some interesting approaches that get around that prohibition going on these days. Read the rest of this entry »


Weekly REDEW: American Cities of the Future 2011/12

October 25, 2010

Well, it was a busy week, last week, with the Chamber’s Regional Leadership Conference and all (see this/last week’s B-MOW), so we’re just getting to last week’s REDEW this week. I know several of you were desperate over the weekend, hitting refresh over and over again, but hopefully you have recovered. So, without further delay, this week’s Random Economic Development Email of the Week: “North-Central-South American Cities of the Future 2011/12: Now accepting entries.” Read the rest of this entry »


Weekly REDEW: 2010 Western Washington Diversity and Inclusion Conference and Awards

October 8, 2010

Yes, that’s right. It’s time again for your weekly “Random Economic Development Email of the Week” or REDEW, where I share some of the strange things that come into my inbox and then riff on their relation to regional economic development.  I know you’ve been waiting excitedly since last week’s debut. This week’s winner: an invitation to the 2010 Western Washington Diversity and Inclusion Conference and Awards! Read the rest of this entry »


Ich bin ein manufacturer

August 18, 2010

Okay, I’ll admit that I took Spanish in high school, so that probably doesn’t make any sense. But you know what does seem to be making a lot of sense these days? Germany’s focus on manufacturing—and on manufacturing for export, in particular. Read the rest of this entry »


What’s IT?

August 12, 2010

This is both a real question and a question my grandfather would ask…of course, until last year he was still using Web TV as his internet. But enough about Poppy Irv.

What counts as IT is a major question as we head into the next Regional Economic Strategy and our comprehensive economic analysis. And I’m not sure I know the answer. Read the rest of this entry »


How Can You Tell If It’s a Trend or an Outlier?

July 22, 2010

One of my favorite parts of the New York Times Styles Section is the trends reporting…”favorite” in the sense that it often makes me laugh with its breathless reporting of how “three random New Yorkers are doing something so it must be the start of a national fad!”  Probably the greatest example is the “everyone is starting to live like cave men” piece. Dmitri Martin used to do an awesome parody of this kind of reporting on the Daily Show.

But the truth is that trendspotting is hard…not just in consumerism, but in economic development planning. And that’s something that we’re really going to struggle with as we begin the Regional Economic Strategy development process. Is all this shifting in the economy over the last few years just a temporary setback or a sign of the new normal? Read the rest of this entry »