Pittsburgh's 2003: Tough sledding

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Like many industrialized cities in the North, Pittsburgh is going through some toung times. The biggest challenge is to remake the core city's economic foundation...the same challenge faced by cities like Cleveland, Buffalo, and Detroit.

It's easy (if not hectic) to be an EDPro in a growing economy: You wax your surfboard and ride the wave.

In economies facing extreme challenges, the job is diffferent. EDPro provides the community a steady hand.

Here's a review of where Pittsburgh stands. Read more.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Resource: Job outlook

The 2000-2010 Job Outlook in Brief isn't all that brief. It prints out to about 35 pages. It's based primarily on the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics Industry-Occupation Matrix.

Download the report. Go.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Florida's Panhandle gets a new look

Leaders in Florida's Panhandle have launched a branding campaign, and it seems to be working to reshape public perceptions. Florida's Great Northwest represents an effort to put the region on the map for corporate executives and site selections consultants.

While the initiative has not scored any major wins, it is making steady progress. Learn more. Visit Florida's Great Northwest web site. Go.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Collaboration in Tupelo

Most people in the economic development biz have heard how Tupelo, MS has built its strategy around collaboration.

In case you have note, here's a good review of Tupelo's approach from a reporter for a North Carolina paper. Read more.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Resource: Weblinks on economic development

Georgia Tech is one of the leading universities in economic development. Here's a good idea: Get a class of students to compile a list of economic development links. Go.

Today in our history of innovation...

In 1913, Dr William David Coolidge patented a method for making ductile tunsten for the purpose of making filaments for electric lamps.

When Coolidge joined the General Electric Research Laboratory in 1905, he was given the task of replacing the fragile carbon filaments in electric light bulbs with tungsten filaments, although tungsten was difficult to work. He developed a way to superheat the metal tunsten in order to draw it out into the fine threads used for lamp filaments.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Upgrading rural telecommunications

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Rural communities are in a tough bind. They often find it difficult to upgrade their telecommunications service. A number of communities in Wisconsin have taken matters into their own hands.

Learn what they are doing. Go.

posted by Ed Morrison |
The timeline for technology-based development

Technology-based economic development takes time, measured in decades.

The recent economic history of Rockville, MD illustrates the point. Rockville is now the center of the Maryland;s bioscience industry. The foundations lay in the 1950's and 1960's. City leqaders took advantage of an Interstate and made commitments to providing a suitable infrastructure for development.

Here's a good article that traces the history of Rockville's emergence as a technology-based economy. Learn more.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Louisiana releases details of Boeing bid

Louisiana ED officials released the details of their Boeing bid, and it opens the question of why they bothered with the bid in the first place.

The Louisiana bid contains no direct financial incentives specifically tailored for Boeing. In the face of Washington State's $3 billion+ package, you wonder what people in Baton Rouge were thinking.

One of the key virtues of having an economic development strategy is knowing when to say, "No". The only positive aspect of Louisiana's bid is that Louisiana is not the only state chasing pipe dreams. Read more.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Learning the issues from high wage employers

In January, EDPros in Collier County, FL -- Naples -- will be launcing an interview with their higher paying employers. They will include high wage companies in the following industries: avionics, biomedical and information and manufacturing technologies. Read more.

If you are thinking of doing the same, you might contact them through their web site. Go.

Today in our history of innovation...

In 1845, Dr. Crawford W. Long in Jefferson, Ga, first administered ether anesthetic to his wife, and she successfully gave birth to a baby girl, their second child.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Models of research collaboration

Friday, December 26, 2003

Oregon does not have a leading edge research university. But collaboration among second tier research universities -- the University of Oregon, Oregon State University and Portland State University -- might just open the door to a nationally competitive center in nanotechnology.

Oregon's new Multiscale Materials and Devices Center hopes to compete for funds under the the 21st Century Nanotechnology Act that Congress recently enacted.

Read more.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Managing expectations in rural areas

Five years ago, Nucor Steel opened a mill in northeast North Carolina, and state officials promised a transformation. It has not happened. Although the company has invested more than it originally planned, the "spillovers" did not trigger economic prosperity.

Major lesson: Manage expectations. Read more.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Buffalo scores big

For the past month, rumors have been reported that Buffalo would be the site of Geico's next big service center. The prize: a projected 2,500 new jobs over the next ten years. The center will start with 300.

The jobs will include call center jobs, and higher-end positions like claims adjusters that pay between $30,000 and $70,000 per year and more than half of the jobs at the center will be for college graduates.

Buffalo had a major league cheerleader: Warren Buffet. Buffett's Berkshore Hathaway owns Geico, and Buffet loves Buffalo. (Indeed, Buffet thinks the center will reach the 2,500 job target in five years.) Read more.

Today in our history of innovation...

In 1865, James H. Mason of Franklin, MA received the first U.S. patent for a coffee percolator.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Resource: Digital Economy

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

The Department of Commerce has released its 2003 Digital Economy report. It outlines the conditions in U.S. information technology (IT) industries and the effects of IT on national economic performance. It is a good resource to get you up to speed on IT developments quickly.

You can download a copy, as well as back-up tables in Excel format. Go.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Resource: Technology-based economic development

Don Iannone points us to a new report on technology-based economic development by Boston-based consultant, Andy Reamer. Completed for the Economic Development Administration, the report provides an overview of technology-led development strategies. Download a copy.

Andy also built and maintains the best economic development resource site on the web at EconData.net.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Resource: 21st century skills

What do students need to know?

One of the vital roles that EDPros can play in our communities is to help define what students need to know in order to compete in the 21st century. Graduating from high school is not a sufficiently high goal. A high school diploma is no longer a ticket to the middle class.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills is a unique public-private organization formed to define the skills that are necessary for every student's success in the 21st Century. The Partnership brings together educators, administrators, parents, businesses, and community leaders to determine how to define and assess these skills, as well as to make recommendations and provide tools for their implementation.

Companies like Microsoft, Dell, Apple and Cisco participate.

Download their recent report and get a crash course in what young people need to know in order for your community to be competitive. Go.

Today in our history of innovation...

In 1948, in Dover, MA, residents moved into the the first U.S. house to be completely solar heated. Dr. Maria Telkes from the MIT Solar Laboratory designed the heating system. Dr. Telkes (1900-95) was a Hungarian-American physical chemist and biophysicist, dubbed "the Sun Queen" for her solar research. She developed solar distillation of sea water for fresh water, solar ovens, and many other solar projects.

posted by Ed Morrison |
One reason Louisiana sticks to the bottom

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

In March 1999, the Mayor Keith Hightower and City of Shreveport began a project to build a 350,000 square foot convention center. To date, the City has expended over $24 million (out of a projected budget of $105 million). The project has been hampered by delays, poor accountability, and a possible violation of the public bid law.

A state government audit now reveals the dark side of how public economic development projects happen in Louisiana.

The pivot point on this deal seems to have been the architect: Slack, Alost, Miremont, and Associates. They've been paid over $11 million...over twice the amount of a standard contract, according to the report. They have spread around some of this money to subcontractors (who, in turn, have the opportunity to spread it to...).

One subcontractor was paid $300 per hour to "send out questionnaires and set up" community meetings. They also "refined" a database of minority contractors. (The database included 29 firms.) Total fee: $228,153.

When asked about their time records, the principals of the firm noted that they kept track of their hours for billing purposes but discarded their records of their number of hours once the invoice was paid. (The consultant's equivalent of "the dog ate my homework".)

Another subcontractor received $284,594 for compiling those 29 firms and for setting up meetings and lunches. According to the report, "Mr. Wimberly stated that though he did not track the number of hours he spent on each task, he spent an enormous amount of time on the convention center. He added that it took 100% of his time because he was always thinking about the project."

A third received $210,463 to produce a business plan for the convention center, but he turned in no written work. (Apparently, the plan was virtual.)

Using public projects to skim and funnel funds is not an uncommon practice in Louisiana. A few people end up fat and happy. The rest of the state pays the price.

Outside perceptions of public corruption will sink all hope that the state can ever pull itself off the bottom. Add public denials and a newspaper that fails its public responsibility to investigate, and you have a recipe for failure. (From 1991 to 2001, Shreveport ranked 305 of 319 metro areas in average annual growth rate.)

Download the audit. Go.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Elkhart moves ahead

Elkhart, tucked into the northeast corner of Indiana, is the center of our country's RV industry. For years, the former mayor stymied efforts at collaboration. Now that is all changing.

The Horizon Project is linking together commmunities across the county. The firswt partnership involves Elkhart and Goshen, the two largest cities. Now promoters of the Horizon Project are reaching out to smaller cities. Read more.

You can visit the project web site to learn more details about how this expanding partnership formed. Go.

The real challenge will come at the next level. Can Elkhart and Goshen develop partnerships with South Bend? Can Northeast Indiana develop a truly regional approach to economic development? That will be tougher. The leadership perspectives for Elkhart and South Bend differ, and in the past these differences have kept the comunities from collaborating.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Education Quotient 2003: Shaping Tomorrow’s Work Force

Expansion Management has produced a report on the educational performance of over 2,800 school ditricts nationwide. The analysis covers districts with at least 3,500 students.

While I question their methods, that's not the important point. The performance of school systems will play an increasingly important role in business location decisions. Expansion Management's report simply underscores the growing importance of this factor.

You can download an Excel spreadsheet that includes the scoring for the large school districts in your state. Go.

posted by Ed Morrison |
South Carolina's challenge

South Carolina has played the branck plant recruitment game well, but compared to its neighbors in Georgia and North Carolina, the state is late to the game of innovation-led economic development.

All that is beginning to change. A recent report by Michael Porter has aparked a new debate in the state about its economic development direction. In simple terms, he has laid out the key patterns that the state's leadership must change. Read more.

Today in our history of innovation...

In 1947, Walter H. Brattain and John Bardeen of Bell Laboratories first demonstrated the transistor. Physicists Bardeen, Brattain, and William B. Shockley shared the 1956 Nobel Prize for jointly inventing the transistor, a solid-state device that could amplify electrical current.

The transistor performed electronic functions similar to the vacuum tube in radio and television, but was far smaller and used much less energy. The transistor became the building block for all modern electronics and the foundation for microchip and computer technology.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Outsourcing: An overview

Monday, December 22, 2003

This morning The New York Times published a helpful article on outsourcing.

The article notes, "The (outsourcing) trend is real, irreversible and another step in the globalization of the American economy. It does present a challenge to industry, government and individual workers. But the shifting of some technology jobs abroad fits into a well-worn historical pattern of economic change and adjustment in the United States." Read more. (Free registration required.)

The article does not touch on other important considerations. For example:

1. Outsourcing works best when companies have relatively large labor pools performing stable business processes. That's why we are seeing most articles talk about IBM, American Express and so on. It does not make sense (now) for most smaller companies with smaller labor pools that perform more variable or "mission critical" functions.

2. Outsourcing does not work well when the business process is variable and the communications costs are high. Product design, product enhancements are more difficult to outsource.

3. Outsourcing will continue to make inroads in business areas where skilled labor in this country is hard to find. Outsourcing vendors will become more sophisticated in packaging their offerings into more complete solutions. We are starting to see this trend in nursing, for example.

4. Companies are increasingly concerned about security and identity theft. Hospitals, for example, are concerned about patient records. U.S. users of outsourcing (such as hospitals) to will address these problems with sophisticated approaches that break apart the problem with solutions that enable them to outsource work while maintaining control of confidential information. Security is a more difficult issue. Companies that send computer code abroad risk getting worms. (This risk is inherent with any software outsourcing. The only solution is reliable business partners.)

5. Outsourcing is still a tricky business. Performing due diligence checks on foreign suppliers is critically important, but relatively difficult to do. Enforcing offshore contracts is very tough and expensive.

6. We have probably overestimated the impact of outsourcing in the short run, but we are probably underestimating its impact over the long term.

(My thanks to Jim Cookingham at NEOSA for organizing a recent panel discussion at Weatherhead on the "downside" of outsourcing.)

posted by Ed Morrison |
Economy Watch

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Here are the best economics articles from the past week.

The Coming Week: Economy in Focus
CBO: US Long-Term Projected Debt Corrosive to Economy
How Much 'Up' in the Tech Upturn?
GE Says Economy in Rebound
Economists predict economic upswing, tighter job market in 2004
Tech Buyers Still Cautious, Despite Economic Recovery 

posted by Ed Morrison |
Review of Rhode Island's tax breaks

Last May, the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation hired Harvard University economist James Medoff to analyze the tax breaks the state extends to businesses to see if that spending really works to create jobs.

It is the first time the state has taken a comprehensive look at whether its spending policies actually work to spawn jobs and attract companies.

Now Medoff reports that the tax incentives appear to be working to create new, higher paying jobs. Read more. (Free registration is required.)

posted by Ed Morrison |
Angel investing is starting to turn up

According to Jeffrey E. Sohl, director of the University of New Hampshire's Center for Venture Research, angel investing activity is increasing with the bump up in the stock market.

Nationwide, angel investment activity tracks the stock market and is more volatile. In 2001, angel investing totaled about $30 billion. Last year, it dropped by nearly half to $15.7 billion.

Here's an article on the increasing activity in Philadelphia. Go.

If you want some background on angel investing, here is an excellent article by Fred Wainwright, the Executive Director of the Center for Private Equity and Entrepreneurship at the Tuck School of Business. Go.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Resources: Compare cities

Rene True, an EDPro reader from Kentucky, passes this site along. It is an online calcualtor that compares 3,000 U.S. cities on a range of dimensions: housing, costs of living, crime, education, economy, health and climate.

Visit the site.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Texas Research Park: Inflated expectations

The Texas Research Park outside San Antonio was supposed to generate over 30,000 jobs by 2020. Today, only about 300 employees work in 15 companies.

It's a cautionary tale of inflated expectations pushed by overly optimistic promoters. A Florida newspaper sent a reporter to investigate, now that the Scripps deal in Florida is generating some pretty high expectations. Read more.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Report on Broadband

Citizens for a Sound Economy has released a report on the economic impacts of broadband deployment. For each state, the report estimates the job impacts from broadband development. Download.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Resources: Rural entrepreneurship

EDPros in rural areas should be reading Rural Entrepreurship News. To subscribe to Rural Entrepreneurship News, simply compose a new message and insert the following information.

To: ruralenews-request@ruraleship.org
Message: subscribe

Visit the web site of the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship. Go.

Today in our history of innovation...

In 1880, New York's Broadway was first lighted by electricity and became known as the "Great White Way."

Charles F. Brush successfully demonstrated his arc lamps along Broadway. His arc lights preceded Edison's incandescent light bulb in commercial use. Arc lights were suited to applications where a bright light was needed, such as street lights and lighting in commercial and public buildings.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Anatomy of a Deal: Bollinger in Lousiana

Friday, December 19, 2003

Here are the details of a deal pending with Bollinger Shipyard in Louisiana. Bollinger is considering different locations for a potential new shipyard to build a fleet of high-speed military vessels. Go.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Greater Baltimore Alliance reorganizes

Here's a summary of what's going on in Baltimore. They have picked a young professional with different skills to lead their economic development organization. As a result, they are coming up with some different approaches. Learn more.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Anatomy of a deal: Stryker in Michigan

Here's a good article on the details of a manufacturing deal in Michigan. The project involves $61 million in new manufacturing facilities and about 175 new jobs. Read more.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Metro Atlanta Quality Growth Task Force

Metro Atlanta is undergoing growth pressures. Projections estimate that by 2030 the region will add another 2.3 million people and 1.7 million more jobs.

Yesterday, the Metro Atlanta Quality Growth Task Force presented the results of comparing alternative land use scenarios - - compact versus decentralized -- and the impact on traffic delay and quality of life.

The Task Force models found that land use makes a big difference, not only in improving quality of life but also in reducing traffic.

Convened by the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, the Metro Atlanta Quality Growth Task Force is comprised of 45 business, civic, environmental, academic and advocacy leaders and state and local elected officials from the metro area. Launched in October, the Task Force will develop specific strategies for responsible and quality growth in the region.

You can learn more about the Metro Atlanta Quality Growth Initiative on this page. Go.

You download a copy of the presentation from this page. Go.

Today in our history of innovation...

In 1974, the pioneering Altair 8800 microcomputer was first put on sale in the U.S. as a do-it-yourself computer kit, for $397. It used switches for input and flashing lights as a display.

The Altair 8800 was featured on the cover of the Jan 1975 issue of Popular Electronics. While freshmen at Harvard, Paul Allen saw the Popular Electronics issue with the Altair story, and told Bill Gates that the microcomputer revolution is just beginning.

posted by Ed Morrison |
South Carolina forms ties with Northern Ireland

Thursday, December 18, 2003

The Carolinas Northern Ireland Trade Association will promote trade and investment projects between Northern Ireland and the Carolinas, particularly joint ventures, licensing agreements, and other forms of partnerships. Read more.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Implementing a retail strategy

If you are focused on rebuilding the retail segment of your economy, you might look at what is going on in Petaluma, CA. The city is following a plan to expand retail in key categories. Read more.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Review of NAFTA impacts

In advance of the ten year anniversary of NAFTA, the World Bank has issued a report on the impact of the free trade agreement. While the agreement has accelerated economic growth somewhat in Mexico, it has not led to significant economic integration between Canada and the U.S.

In Mexico's case, the report's author indicates that the free trade agreement does not substitute for an economic development strategy. Read more.

Go to a summary article

posted by Ed Morrison |
SC tightens incentive program

South Carolina's jobs development tax credit is popular among EDPros in that state...so popular, in fact, that the cost of the program accelerated by 40% last year.

Fearful that the state legislature might target the program, Bob Faith, the state's commerce secretary, has announced tighter administrative rules to reduce the cost of the incentive program. Read more.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Central America free trade deal

The Bush Administration has completed a free trade deal with Central America. The Administration hopes to send the deal to Congress in January. Read more here and here.

Today in our history of innovation...

In 1957, the Shippingport Atomic Power Station in Pennsylvania, the first large-scale civilian nuclear power plant in the world, fed electricity into the grid for the Pittsburgh area.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Motor sports in North Carolina

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Competition is heating up in the mid-Atlantic states over motor sports and automobile research.

Virginia's governor has announced a motor sports initiative. Clemson has broken ground on a new automotive R&D facility. Now North Carolina is undertaking an economic impact study of motor sports in the state.

The report sets the foundation for a proposal to establish a Motorsports Center at the Charlotte campus of the University of North Carolina. Read more.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Kitchen incubators

Here's an idea that most communities can use: develop a kitchen incubator for entrepreneurs to test new food products and learn how to distribute specialty food products. The Department of Agriculture can help provide finding.

This initiative takes advantage of the growing trend toward speciality foods. Read more about the kitchen incubator in Huron County, MI. Go.

Learn more about specialty foods in Vermont. Go.

Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet) has used this strategy aggressively in Southern Ohio. Learn more about their Food Ventures program. Go.

posted by Ed Morrison |
University of California Davis opens up

The University of California has decentralized its technology transfer operation, and UC Davis is taking full advantage of the new flexibility. It is conduting an assessment of campus technologies and started inviting investors to tour the research labs.

This is a good article on the practical steps for expanding university-based technology transfer.

Read more.

Today in our history of inovation

In 1903, the first powered flight was achieved by the Wright brothers in the Kitty Hawk, at Kill Devil Hill, North Carolina. That morning, the biting cold wind had a velocity of 22 to 27 miles an hour. As ten o'clock arrived, the Wrights decided, nevertheless, to get the machine out and attempt a flight.

Orville Wright launched from a track, taking off into the wind. The aircraft covered 120 feet, aloft for 12 seconds. For the first time, a machine carrying a man had raised itself by its own power into the air in full flight, had sailed forward without reduction of speed, and had finally landed at a point as high as that from which it started.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Tallahassee Chamber plans field trip to Madison, WI

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

In the next few years, Tallahasee is going to be one of the communities to watch. They are moving ahead with some smart strategies. For example...

Continuing an annual program of fact-finding trips, the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce will be sponsoring a fact-finding trip to Madison, Wisconson.

Read about why they picked Madison and what they hope to learn. Go.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Minnesota proposal for bioscience funding

The Minnesota Bioscience Council is asking the state legislature to make a major commitment to investment in the biosciences. The Council wants $234 million in bonding requests and a guarantee of up to $200 million in venture capital investments in local biosciences companies by the state's pension board.

Read more.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Web Watch: Oregon's new workforce site

One of the most difficult challenges in designing a workforce site comes in organizing the information clearly.

Oregon's new workforce site is one of the best efforts I've come across. It can serve as a template for EDPros trying to provide workforce resource information.

Visit the site. Go.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Boeing's decision due today: Everett

Here are some articles on Boeing's decision, which is due to be announced today at a news conference at 3:15 PST:

Boeing's decision on 7E7 plant due
Boeing 7E7 jet moves towards launch
Suspense builds as Boeing readies 7E7 announcement
State's $3.2 billion in incentives sway Boeing
7E7 routed to Everett; Jobs: Up to 1,200; Jobs supported: 15,737

Today in our history of innovation...

In 1897, the Columbian Iron Works and Dry Dock Company of Baltimore, Maryland demonstrated the Argonaut, the first U.S. submarine fitted with an internal combustion engine.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Einstein's Alley

Monday, December 15, 2003

Business and government leaders got together last week to define a promote a region in central New jersey called Eistein's Alley. The summit dealt with four topics: strengthening central New Jersey's research and development advantage; promoting entrepreneurship; preparing the future workforce; and promoting livable communities and sustainable development.

You can read more about the summit here.

You can download the summit materials, including a final report, from this page.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Vermont rural council focuses on creative economy

The "creative economy" may be a source of future jobs in rural Vermont. To explore this option, the Vermont Council on Rural Development is conducint a study to document the economic impact of "creative" businesses, such as recording studios, publishers, architects, book stores, nonprofit organizations and self-employed artists. Read more.

In a related story, Vermont has launched the Northeast Center for Food Entrepreneurship. The Center serves a growing markeet for speciality foods. Read more.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Economy Watch

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Here's the best economics articles of the past week:

World's biggest company isn't purely success story
Vital Signs for the Week of Dec. 15
China: Willing to lift U.S. imports
Economists See Rebound, Workers Waiting
US 2004 economic growth seen at 20-yr high: report
Cisco's Chambers: Improving Economy To Spur Sales In IP Telephony, Storage
No answer yet to U.S.-China trade friction

posted by Ed Morrison |
Web Watch: Designing cool places for hot jobs

Saturday, December 13, 2003

We use market research to design everthing from toothbrushes to automobiles. But we do not use much market research when we design neighborhoods, downtown districts, or cities.

This is starting to change. Here's an example. In Michigan, the state is promoting the idea of building cool neighborhoods for hot jobs, as the governor puts it. Review the on-line survey and see what they are doing. Go.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Merck incentives trigger some rural backlash

North Carolina is trying to land a big vaccine production facility for Durham. The legislature passed a $24 million incentive package this week for the deal.

Some folks in the rural areas are complaining. Read more here and here.

The same rural reaction sunk Ohio's effort to pass a major state bonding effort to support technology based development. This pattern suggests that state level EDPros need to be attuned to the "equity" issues and perceptions of balance.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Why national manufacturing policy is hard to define

Here's an insightful article about why stimulating a national manufacturing policy is so hard to do. Read more.

Today in our history of innovation...

In 1962, U.S. enginineers launched the first communications earth satellite, Relay I, to transmit telephone, television, teleprinter and facsimile signals.

posted by Ed Morrison |
New reports on manufacturing competitiveness

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Don Iannone, in his weblog, Economic Development Futures, points us to a new manufacturing report by the National Association of Manufacturers. This report focuses on overhead costs -- health care, pensions, tort litigation.

The report's recommendations focus on steps that the state legislatures and the Congress can take to ease the burdens of these costs.

You can download the reports from this page.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Los Angeles and the fashion business

Globalization has swept through the fashion and apparel business in Los Angeles, and a new report outlines these changes. It's a good case study of how businesses are adjusting to global pressures.

As the report's author concludes: "The fashion industry is one of the most misperceived industries in Los Angeles, but it should be viewed in a new light...L.A.'s apparel industry is now driven by design talent, economics, technology and speed to market."

Read more or download the report.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Wisconsin's incubator industry

A new report ranks Wisconsin's incubator industry near the top of the country.

According to the report's author, "Wisconsin’s incubators are working the high-end of economic development and are helping the state and local economy. Wisconsin ranks fourth in the nation with 33 business incubator programs behind New York, California, and Pennsylvania." Read more.

You can download the report. Go.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Minnesota branding: An on-line store

The State of Minnesota has engaged an on-line store for team apparel to sell a new line of Minnesota-branded apparel.

This is an idea that any community (or state ED organization) can use. The advantage: the on-line store handles all inventory, payment processing and fulfillment. Learn more.

posted by Ed Morrison |
More on Merck

The North Carolina legislature has delivers on its package of $24 million in incentives. Now it's Merck's turn to announce whether it will locate a $300 million vaccine production facility in Durham.

Read more.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Rainforests, part 2

Here are the economic development priorities contained in the omnibus spending bill now before the Senate.

Priority One: Cut the Manufacturing Extension Partnership budget by $70 million, a 63% cut. Learn more.

Priority Two: Build a rainforest in Iowa (and call it economic development) for $50 million. Read more.

EDPros concerned with manufacturing should send an e-mail to their Senators urging that the money for rainforests should be moved to restoring funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

Congress will provide only $39.6 million for MEP this year, effectively gutting the program. Last year, Congress funded MEP at $106.6 million. Learn more.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Boeing boing boing bump splat

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

A couple of articles critical of Boeing raise the specter that the company has started on a long tailspin and will have difficulty pulling out.

As one article notes: "The story of Philip Murray Condit, 62, is the tale of a manager promoted beyond his competence and blind to his own shortcomings."

The second article comments: "Boeing's stature as the world's leading manufacturer of commercial airliners—the Boeing 747 stands with Coca-Cola and the Golden Arches as the best-known American products around the globe—has collapsed in a mere half-decade."

Boeing: What Really Happened
Jet Lag: How Boeing blew it

posted by Ed Morrison |
Austin commits to sustainable energy goals

The Austin City Council has adopted a strategic plan for Austin Energy that includes aggressive goals for sustainable energy. Austin Energy is a community-owned electric utility and a department of the City of Austin.

The plan sets goals for sustainable energy production and conservation. Read more.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Arizona focused on Airbus

Arizona is focused on landing a radar manufacturing facility for Airbus. Learn more.

posted by Ed Morrison |
NC legislature considers incentives for Merck

Merck wants to expand its vaccine production capacity, and this spring it started looking for a location. Durham, NC emerged as the favorite site, but the deal hinges on the package of incentives that the State can offer.

The legislature is going into special session this week to consider the $24 million package, along with a couple of smaller deals. Learn more. Article 1, article 2 and article 3.

Today in our history of innovation...

In 1993, the crew of the space shuttle Endeavour deployed the repaired Hubble Space Telescope into Earth orbit. View Hubble's amazing color pictures of stars, planets, and galaxies from this site.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Web Watch: Interactive mapping smart growth

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

A new web site enables visitors to map economic development programs in Pennsylvania. This approach provides insights into where subsidies hit the state and how they may be contributing to the problem of sprawl.

The web site leads to a much higher level of transparency with regard to economic development incentives.

The web site is part of a larger project by the Keystone Research Center exploring whether economic development incentives encourage sprawl in Pennsylvania. (I mentioned this report, published by Brookings, in an earlier posting this week. View the report.)

Visit the mapping site. Go.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Wisconsin city to encourage start-ups

West Bend, WI is a city of 28,000 about thirty miles northwest of Milwaukee. The West Bend Economic Development Corporation has annoounced that it is shifting economic development strategies: away from recruitment and toward building entrepreneurship.

Smart move. Learn more.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Mississippi's jobs summit

Newly elected Mississippi governor Haley Barbour plans to advance his state's economic development agenda with an ambitious jobs summit next week.

He's planning to invite 700 people over two days. He plans to cover everything from work force development and job training to tort reform and higher education. Part of the scope and urgency is tied to the legislative calendar. The state legislature will convene next month. Read more.

This type of event is risky. While it can help build momentum, it just as easily can generate unrealistic expectations. Part of the challenge lies in engaging the audience, not just talking at them. Interactivity will play an important role. But the size of the summit makes interactivity (except through the Internet) a tough problem.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Michigan's on-line permitting for manufacturers

Governor Granholm announced a new initiative for Michigan's manufacutrers at yesterday's manufacturing summit. She signed an executive order calling for an online licensing service.

This problem is not trivial in Michigan. Auto firms report that permit approval times in the state average 1 1/2 to two years. Read more.

Here's a good article that gives some background to yesterday's summit. Go.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Insights from a thought leader

Angelos Angelou, a thought leader in our profession, started his economic development career by guiding the economy in Austin, TX. Last week, he was in Cleveland, and I had the opportunity to attend one of his presentations.

Here are some highlights from his talk.

1. In Austin, 92% of the job growth comes from expansions and entrepreneurial start-ups. Only 7% to 8% comes from relocations.

2. In its development plan, Austin aggressively recruited companies that fit their target market. Their recrutiment efforts relied on extensive "corporate intelligence", detailed planning, and effective execution.

3. Austin limited incentives to anchor projects. Only 13 of the 800 companies that relocated to Austin received "hard" incentives.

4. The most effective incentives are "soft" incentives. Examples of soft incentives include providing in-state tuition to a companies employees (before they qualify) and providing adjunct professorships to key technical people.

Here's an update on the Austin economy. Read more.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Porter gives guidance to South Carolina

Michael Porter has completed his analysis of the South Carolina economy. He recommends a change in economic development strategy. The state should move to increase education levels and increase research funding. You can read more here and here.

You can download the summary. Go.

Or, you can download the entire report. Go.

Today in our history of innovation...

In 1968, Doug Engelbart and a small team of researchers from the Stanford Research Institute stunned the computing world with an extraordinary demonstration at a San Francisco computer conference: the first demonstration of a computer mouse.

They debuted the computer mouse, graphical user interface, display editing and integrated text and graphics, hyper-documents, and two-way video-conferencing with shared workspaces. These concepts and technologies became the cornerstones of modern interactive computing.

posted by Ed Morrison |
New report on Pennsylvania

Brookings Institution has released a report on economic strategy in Pennsylvania. The importance of this report lies in the connection it draws between competitiveness in the knowledge economy and the physical patterns of growth.

The report argues that sprawl is damaging the state's older downtowns, just the assets that the state needs to compete effectively. In focusing on the competitive consequences of physical development patterns, this report breaks new ground.

(Richard Florida talks about the importance of building places to attract the "creative class", but he does not tackle the difficult issues of physical development that form the core of this report.)

You can download the report from this page. Go.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Economy Watch

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Here are the best economics articles from the past week.

Economic news isn't so bright in key states
US factories hit 20-year record
Economists disappointed by rate of employment growth
News Analysis: Self-employed ride to the rescue
Productivity surges at best rate in 20 years, expected to boost hiring

posted by Ed Morrison |
Framing the manufacturing issue correctly

Saturday, December 06, 2003

One of the biggest challenges facing EDPros is preparing communities for the deep transitions that are reshaping our manufacturing economy. Here are two examples of what not to do.

In Wisconsin, a former secretary of the state Department of Workforce Development stated that Wisconsin needs to strive for an economy "where we work with our brains, not with our hands." (She seems to ignore that most people, including professionals from research scientists to aerospace engineers, work with their hands.) Not surprisingly, a state labor leader objected to this simple-minded notion. Go.

In Seattle, all the attention being paid to the "new economy" is making manufacturers feel left out. EDPros in that city are ignoring a significant component of their economic base. Read more.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Idaho's rural summit

EDPros in rural areas will beinterested in this article. Idaho recently held a rural summit, and the state has released a summary of the strategies and initiatives that they would like to pursue.

The summary provides a useful framework to organize some of the competitive issues facing rural areas. One important area left off: rural entrepreneurship. Read more.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Roundtable on outsourcing

Here's an excellent review of outsourcing issues with a roundtable discussion by a group of experts. Learn more.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Incentives in North Carolina

On Tuesday, the North Carolina legislature will go into session, and incentives will be on the agenda. North Carolina is another state undergoinng major shifts with the decline of tobacco, textiles, and furniture.

Politicians are under pressure to do something. Expanding incentives is an obvious response, but it's probably not the right one. (The trouble is that many EDpros, under short term pressure, think incentives matter more than they really do.) Read more.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Michigan's manufacturing summit

On Monday, Michigan business and political leaeders are convening a manufacturing summmit. The meeting will review how the state can respond to the profound structural shifts that are taking place inthe state's manufacturing sector.

Here is a good overview of the issues. Read more.

Some good quotes:

"Just to focus on manufacturing because that's been our area for 100 years is not smart. In order to stay ahead, we just to have to keep innovating, finding new growth areas." (Robert Kleine, a former director of the state Office of Revenue and Tax Analysis.)

"(The) goal should be (that) we have a thriving manufacturing industry irregardless of how many people it employs." (Donald Grimes, senior research associate at the University of Michigan Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations in Ann Arbor.)

""You can never race to the bottom, because you can never outbid Indonesia. Our strength lies in high-skill, high-wage advanced manufacturing." (Former governor James Blanchard.)

posted by Ed Morrison |
South Carolina report recommends higher education overhaul

Friday, December 05, 2003

A consulting report recommends that South Carolina make major reforms to its higher education system. In an effort to buffer higher education from political pressures, the report recommends that the State set up a separate corporation to govern the system. Read more.

You can download the consultant's presentation from this page. Go.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Webcast: Connect universities and businesses

Yesterday, the EDA sponsored a web cast about the connection between universities and businesses. Read more about the web cast. Go.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Insider: 7E7 will be in Everett

In a not-so-surprising development, an insider at Boeing has told the local paper that the 7E7 team wants to assemble the plane in Everett.

The insider talked of details being prepared for a December 15 board meeting.

Read more.

More stories:

Reaction to today's news about the 7E7
Washington wins Boeing plant
7E7 rivals ramp up efforts after leak

posted by Ed Morrison |
The role of central cities in economic development

Cleveland State University held an important forum last night on the role of central cities in economic development.

Northeast Ohio is the "control case" of the consequences of suburban sprawl. While the region's population has not been growing, the development pattern has been spreading out. This trend is leaving a "hole in the donut".

As Stephen Goldsmith, former mayor of Indianapolis noted, this pattern of development undercuts the long term prospects for the region. Read more.

Today in our history of innovation...

In 1854, Aaron H. Allen of Boston, Mass. was issued a U.S. patent for the first folding chair.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Illinois' new system of entrepreneur support centers

Thursday, December 04, 2003

The state opened the sixth of its statewide system of business support centers in Rockford. These centers are targeted to helping launching new, innovative companies with some growth potential.

But given the scope of the transition now underway in the state, the amount of funding these centers are receiving is too low. Read more.

posted by Ed Morrison |
New Mexico's gaining momentum

In a speech yesterday, Governor Richardson thanked the business community for its support in moving New Mexico forward. As if to prove his point, he hinted at a big announcement from a large technology company located in the Pacific Northwest. Read more.

Today in our history of innovation...

In 1812, the first power mower was patented.

posted by Ed Morrison |
How good are your banks at export financing?

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Here's a good article from Jacksonville, FL the explores the obstacles of export financing to many small and mid-sized companies. As one Florida Entrerprise official notes, ""Most banks are still more comfortable financing a used car lot across the street than they are financing even a very good international transaction for a very good company."

Not surprisingly, the bankers see the problem as limited managerial outlook on the part of most firms. As one banker notes: ""American business has to make a decision. Are we going to be part of [global trade], or are we going to try and avoid it?"

Learn more.

The export orientation of your regional economy matters. Export-oriented firms tend to grow faster and pay higher wages than companies that ignore global markets. EDPros in other countries focus much more than we do on export promotion.

Here's a report from the U.K. that focuses on the higher performance levels achieved by export-oriented firms. Go.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Fort Wayne's Invent Tomorrow

Here's a good example of a comunity-wide group that has developed a solid reputation for getting stuff done. When you explore Invent Tomorrow's web site, you see why. It has a clear action orientation that is focused on "what's next?"

Read more about Invent Tomorrow. Go. Visit the Invent Tomorrow web site. Go.

Today in our history of innovation...

In 1922, the first commercially successful Technicolor motion picture film was shown at the Rialto Theater in New York City.

posted by Ed Morrison |
A rainforest in Iowa? Now that's economic development

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Iowa Senator Grassley, a strong proponent of frugal government, has managed to stuff $50 million into the pending omnibus appropriations bill for an indoor rain forest and aquarium in Coralville, Iowa. Read more.

Curious about what a rainforest in Iowa would look like, I found a picture of the project and some additional details. Go.

There's only one problem. Someone forgot to tell Senator Grassley and his staff that acquariums are a black hole for economic development. Here's a good article from the Heritage Foundation on the issue. Go. Even in a tourist destination like Charleston, SC, aquariums stack up operating losses.

(In a newsletter to his constituents, Senator Grassley comments: "As a watchdog for taxpayers in Washington, I work hard to make sure that essential government services get funded and that the money you send to Washington is spent wisely and not wasted.")

posted by Ed Morrison |
Anchorage and Atlantic City turn to public relations

More communities are turning to public relations as a strategy for building their brand. Here are two examples. The mayor Anchorage recently toured the West Coast and met with business writers along the way. In Atlantic City, they are using a postcard campaign targeted toward writers.

Read more about Anchorage. Go. Read more about Atlantic City. Go.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Web Watch: Preble County, Ohio

Here's a well designed site for a smaller county (population 43,000) in Ohio (just west of Dayton). I like the first screen that gives you a clear choice and pathway to follow. One side is a community site for citizens. The other side is an economic development site for business investors.

Visit the site.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Deep transitions in Illinois

Globalization is hitting the Illinois manufacturng economy hard in places like Rockford and Galesburg. Some good profiles have appeared in the press recently. Read about Rockford. Read about Galesburg.

In Northwest Illinois, the communites of Dixon, Rock Falls and Sterling have figured out that regional economic development strategies make the most sense. Read more.

And in Southern Illinois, Carbondale is turning to entrepreneurship as a new strategy. Read more.

Meanwhile, Chicago's economy is big enough to be diversified and weather the storm. Read more.

posted by Ed Morrison |
Oregon's new branding

Oregon has launched a new Brand Oregon initiative. The effort includes a new tag line for its marketing strategy: "We Love Dreamers".

Brand Oregon is more comprehensive than other states. The state is leveraging efforts across the agencies in a coordinated campaign that serves multiple economic goals, including economic development and tourism. Read more.

The governor introduced the new marketing initiative during the summit on the Oregon Business Plan. You can read the governor's comments here. Read a discussion paper on Oregon branding. Go.

You can learn more about the Oregon Business Plan from its web site. Go.

Today in our history of innovation...

In 1957, the first full-scale atomic electric generating station in the U.S. began operation in Shippingport, Pennsylvania. The plant reached full power 21 days later, generating 60 megawatts of power for Pittsburgh.

The Pennsylvania plant started 15 years to the day after a team of scientists at the Univeristy of Chicago, led by Enrico Fermi, achieved the first self-sustained nuclear chain reaction. Fermi produced the world's first artificial nuclear chain reaction in a makeshift lab underneath the University's football stands at Stagg Field.

posted by Ed Morrison |

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