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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