Spokane Regional Networking, Social Media, Professional and Business Development
On Thursday, October 20th, entrepreneurs, innovators, educators and business leaders from across our region will be gathered together for an event called Transforming our Regional Economy: How Technology and Innovation are Changing Business.
The purpose of the event is two fold: bring business leaders together to help promote innovative companies and entrepreneurs in our region and also to discuss ideas for how we can leverage innovation and technology to propel our economy to new levels of prosperity.
The idea for hosting this event happened when I read a series of articles that were featured in Wired Magazine called The Smartest Jobs in America. The articles were published in the June 2011 edition of Wired as part of a six-month investigation titled The Future of Work.
I was so intrigued with the articles; I ended up calling and talking with the authors about the project and what they had learned. I got so excited during those conversations; I invited them to be our special guests for this event, but am still waiting on confirmation as this article went to press.
The featured articles were entitled, How an old industry is rebooting; The surprising new job centers, Why one tech corridor is booming and The revival of small city downtowns. Each article is fascinating on their own and deserve a good read, but I was particularly intrigued by the article, The surprising new job centers.
See diagram below of the new emerging tech epicenters...where is Spokane!
You can find a link to the articles here
This article illustrated how several mid-sized cities had been able to increase employment and job creation in technology areas, such as information technology, green technology and biosciences. But what was more interesting to me was how these mid-sized towns had developed new thriving companies in software development and green technology outside of traditional innovation hubs like Silicon Valley, Seattle or Boston. Even more intriguing was that some municipalities had developed unique innovation by leveraging older, traditional industries in plastics, chemicals and aerospace and created niche markets that spawned emerging companies.
Some of the cities mentioned in the article were Fort Collins, Colorado; Bloomington, Indiana; Waco, Texas and Reading, Pennsylvania. Not exactly the cities you would think about when you think about innovation and technology hubs, right?
As I read through the article I found that many of these cities had very similar demographics and assets in comparison to Spokane. For example, several did not have a research university or college, yet had attracted knowledge workers due to a revived downtown. Sound familiar? This asset alone attracted creative entrepreneurs who like to build and create. For some cities, this became a key milestone.
Also, many of the jobs being created were ideally suited for people who have minimal college, but had skills in old-fashioned industries such as metals, aerospace or chemicals. Essentially, these cities are now developing new specialized sectors which are increasing employment and their tax base, in spite of not having what we would normally think of as “traditional economic development assets.”
Economic development is obviously a complex and challenging process, just ask the folks who are slugging it out everyday to compete with other cities. But I wonder if we are really looking at how we could transform our regional economy to support entrepreneurs and innovation more effectively?
Are we truly celebrating the entrepreneurs and our local tech based companies so they get the marketing power they need to expand and compete? Ask Dave Curry of Demand Energy Networks or Tyler Lafferty of Seven2 Interactive who will be participating at the event. Do we truly understand the markets in which we can compete on a global scale?
These are just a few of questions we plan to discuss at the event. If you have ideas and would like to join the conversation, please let us know and share and comment on this post if you feel inclined.
Here is a link to the event if you would like to learn more about it and to RSVP
By Bill Kalivas,
LaunchPad INW, LLC