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Statistical comparison of major metro areas December 19, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Education, Research, Workforce.
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Houston Strategies referred me to this well-done compilation by the St. Louis, Missouri-based East-West Gateway Council of Goverments, of data comparing St. Louis to different metro areas around the nation in terms of our many demographic points – education, age, race, income, etc.  – using the latest available data.

If you are interested in keeping up with the Jones (or at least benchmarking your community against them!), this looks like a good resource.


Creative industries generate wealth in young workforce December 13, 2006

Posted by Tom in Economic Development, Innovation, Research, WIRED, Workforce.
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At least, that’s what one Australian university researcher has found.

One in three of Australia’s young multimillionaires aged 40 or under made their fortunes in the “creative industries”, research shows. Among the older millionaires, only one in 10 were involved in creative pursuits.

“The pay-off for being a great designer or a great artist has never been better,” said Jason Potts, an economist at Queensland University of Technology. [Dr. Potts works for the Centre of Excllence for Creative Industries and Innovation.] “There are much greater opportunities today for people who follow their muses.”

BRW‘s Young Rich list for 2006 reveals 37 per cent of the 100 multimillionaires made their fortunes in the creative industries, which Dr Potts defines as architecture, advertising, art, fashion, film, publishing, software, entertainment, TV and video games. Sport, museum work and tourism are excluded. They toiled as entertainers (9 per cent), developing software (10 per cent), in fashion and design (11 per cent) and in new media (6 per cent).

Sarah-Jane Clarke, 32, who has made it to the BRW list as a co-founder of the fashion label sass & bide, said: “When we started we never thought about making money; a lot of creative people don’t. We wanted to create beautiful things.”

She said being part of a global market Australian designers could sell their products to the world, but “it’s more competitive”.

Dr Potts said: “It’s not enough just to go to art school. The huge rewards go to those who are exceptional. The difference today is that the Beatles, in terms of the fortune they made, were a once-in-a-generation phenomenon. Now we turn these people out once every six months.”

Frankly, I find myself struggling to grasp with the implications of this information.


Boise State students measuring creativity of their community December 11, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Education, Research, Workforce.
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Honest, I’m not looking for content about Boise. It just seems to be finding me. This time, it’s from the Idaho Business Review (Thanks to Ed Morrison at Brewed Fresh Daily for the lead) :

Fourteen Boise State University honors students have devised a way to measure the level of creativity and innovation at work in the city of Boise.


Super-regional economic development dialogue: The university role October 30, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Education, Events, Innovation, Research.
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My favorite economic development blogs are picking up on the Brookings Institution’s concept of a Great Lakes compact. (Thanks to Don Iannone at Economic Development Futures Journal for a link to the Brookings Insitution’s report.)

And that’s nothing in comparison to the mass media coverage of the report.

But perhaps the most interesting extrapolation of this report comes from Bill Testa of the Chicago Federal Reserve, who explores the possibilities of university involvement in such an super-regional alliance:


Chicago Fed’s Testa analyzes Indiana, offers universal insights October 5, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Education, Research, Workforce.
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Economist Bill Testa from the Chicago Federal Reserve offers a cross-section of the data that he collected in anticipation of his participation in an economic development conference in Indianapolis.  His main conclusions: Indiana is losing its manufacturing base, and its wages are lower than other manufacturing states.  Here’s what he thinks about that:

How can Indiana improve its living standards? In our market-oriented economy, higher wages and earnings are currently being paid to those with higher skills and education. For this reason, investment in education and work force training are one important part in achieving higher income for Hoosiers.

In addition to higher skills, there must be job opportunities available for those enhanced skills and training. Sometimes, such local job opportunities do emerge as new firms and capital investment migrate into states in search of favorable work force skills and education. However, in other instances, skilled workers move out of state in search of greater opportunity. To forestall this loss of skilled workers, Indiana and other states are pursuing not only work force training and education, but also local technology transfer from technical universities along with the encouragement of entrepreneurial ventures.

Nice summary of trends in the Hoosier state – and other “low wage states.”

Emerging workforce concerns: Do they have the basic skills that we need? October 5, 2006

Posted by Tom in Education, Human Resources, Research, Workforce.
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The Conference Board doesn’t think so. They just issued a harsh report outlining the lack of workplace readiness in the emerging workforce (generally understood to be graduates of secondary and postsecondary education who have entered the workforce and newly arrived immigrant workers) based upon a survey of 431 human resource professionals. Here’s a taste:

Business leaders report that while the three “R’s” are still fundamental to every employee’s ability to do the job, applied skills such as teamwork, critical thinking, and communication are essential for success at work. In fact, at all educational levels, these applied skills trump basic knowledge skills such as reading and mathematics in importance in the view of employers. In order to succeed in the workplace of the 21st Century, high school and college graduates need to master basic academic skills as well as a complement of applied skills. The survey also found though that too many new entrants to the workforce are not adequately prepared in these important skills.

Nearly three-quarters of survey participants (70 percent) cite deficiencies among incoming high school graduates in “applied” skills, such as professionalism and work ethic, defined as “demonstrating personal accountability, effective work habits, e.g. punctuality, working productively with others, time and workload management.”

More than 40 percent of surveyed employers say incoming high school graduates hired are deficiently prepared for the entry-level jobs they fill. The report finds that recent high school graduates lack the basic skills in reading comprehension, writing and math, which many respondents say were needed for successful job performance.

And why is this important?

“It is clear from the report that greater communication and collaboration between the business sector and educators is critical to ensure that young people are prepared to enter the workplace of the 21st century,” says Richard Cavanagh, President and CEO of The Conference Board. “Less than intense preparation in critical skills can lead to unsuccessful futures for America’s youth, as well as a less competitive U.S. workforce. This ultimately makes the U.S. economy more vulnerable in the global marketplace.”

Let me carry this point a step further, recycling a chart that I used in a very early post on this blog:

This chart came out of a report ( “Future Workforce Skills” ) that the Manpower Corporation’s Sydney, Australia office. Recognizing their place in the global economy, the analysts used historical studies of the American labor market to predict skills needed for Australian employers to succeed today. The chart itself benchmarks back to 1969 and tracks the growth (or contraction) of occupations requiring different types of skills.

Long story short: If you don’t have some expert skills or complex communications abilities, you’re probably not going to be a winner in today’s economy. Routine labor, unskilled labor…there’s just no future there.

Now, run the results of the Conference Board survey through the lens of the Manpower chart. What do we do about this? And how can we fix the problems we see – at a systemic level?

Kansas City Fed offers “Regional Asset Indicators” October 2, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Research.
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If you haven’t bookmarked The Creativity Exchange, do it right now. Blogs like this make me question why I bother.

Their latest gem is a link to the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank’s “Regional Asset Indicators” data and maps. At a county-by-county level, ranging from creativity to innovation to personal watch to entrepreneurship and beyond, the Fed has mapped the entire country.

Word to the wise: It’s good to be “blue” on as many maps as possible. And it’s not too hard to croos-reference the blue areas with those that are more successful in the modern economy.

Side observation: I find it interesting that the savings rates are highest in the lowest activity areas…and most of the highest activity counties and regions have low personal savings rates. Anyone care to explain the correlation? Are these folks putting their savings into entrepreneurial or real estate equity? And what does that mean for the long-term health of these regions? Lastly, does this savings rate represent untapped economic potential?

Fascinating data for all to chew over.

NE Ohio Entrepreneurs: Concerned about economy, access to capital September 28, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Research.
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Here’s a link to an interesting survey from Cleveland State University and JumpStart, Inc..  While there were many, many positive survey responses, I tend to look to the challenges:

Respondents had negative perceptions about the economic health of the Northeast Ohio region. The mean score (2.23) fell well below the midpoint of the scale; with 60 percent of respondents strongly disagreeing (1 or 2 on the 5-point scale) with the statement that the economic health of the region is strong.

The numbers were even more discouraging when participants were asked specifically about access to capital. Of the respondents, 68 percent strongly disagreed that access to angel capital is easy and 71 percent strongly disagreed that access to venture capital is easy.

Whereas these two questions did score low, they weren’t particularly surprising. “We saw responses that echoed findings that The Fund for Our Economic Future concluded through their Voices and Choices initiatives,” stated JumpStart Chief Marketing Officer Thom Ruhe. “As for the pessimistic view on access to capital, here too, we find validity in entrepreneurs’ claims as was identified last year by NorTech in their Early-Stage Capital Task Force Report,” Ruhe added. “I think a main take away from the survey is that Northeast Ohio Entrepreneurs know we have our work cut out for ourselves, but we are overall optimistic that we can do it,” Ruhe concluded.

It takes a brave organization to point out the potential shortcomings of their home region; however, those that face their challenges squarely are more likely to create meaningful solutions.  Kudos to them.

Global ED investment: 2005’s winner is….Europe? September 19, 2006

Posted by Tom in Economic Development, Research.
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IBM, no longer just “the computer company” that we know and love, has a robust site selection group called IBM-Plant Location International (PLI). PLI issues an annual report detailing the past year’s economic development investment trends for services, R&D and manufacturing, and this week they released their 2005 survey of countries receiving investment from multinational companies. The “winner” for this highly-prized level of investment? Europe, with 39 percent of the pie.

Lots of worthwhile nuggets of information in this release, which deserves a full read by any community or economic developer who intends to be a meaningful participant in the global economy. Among the highlights (note the important workforce acknowledgement in the last paragraph of the quote):

Business services ranked as the most popular type of inward investment project, accounting for 20 percent of all global projects, while manufacturing investment decreased globally on average by 20 percent — to some 800 projects per quarter in 2005. Investment in new R&D centers remained fairly stable in 2005 at 200 projects every quarter globally.

For the third consecutive year, China and India combined received more investment projects than the U.S — 1,650 to 1,200 respectively. U.S. headquartered companies remained the largest generators of cross border investments, with 2,800 projects. However, German-based companies took over second place from their Japanese counterparts, 720 to 670 outward investment projects in 2005 respectively.

“Even though mature economies have caught up slightly, the survey illustrates multinational companies can increasingly seek talent pools anywhere in the world,” said Roel Spee, co-leader of IBM-Plant Location International. “Global competition for new jobs and capital investment is increasing continuously; developed and developing regions must continually define and implement new strategies to attract investment. Competitiveness in innovation and technology-driven strategy will play a vital role in creating new economy jobs.”


Economic volatility and its effect on workforce September 12, 2006

Posted by Tom in Research, Workforce.
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Another great tip from Kevin Thompson at the Employment & Training Administration:

Economic Turbulence: Is a Volatile Economy Good for America?

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 — National economies are naturally turbulent — and the United States is no exception. On any given day, companies come and go and jobs are lost and created. But that volatility may not necessarily be a bad thing, according to three leading labor economists. Julia Lane, Clair Brown and John Haltiwanger — with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation — have concluded a four-year research project designed to study the effect of economic turbulence on American jobs.

Their work is derived from the U.S. Census Bureau‘s Longitudinal Employer- Household Dynamics (LEHD) program encompassing data from five diverse sectors of the American economy — financial services, retail food services, trucking, semiconductors and software — analyzed by leading university-based researchers from Sloan Industry Centers.

“This is a novel data infrastructure that has created fresh information about what happens to workers and firms together with new measures of workforce quality,” said Julia Lane, senior vice president and director of the Economics, Labor, and Population Studies Department at the National Opinion Research Center, affiliated with the University of Chicago. “This rich source of information has been complemented by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s $70 million investment in the Sloan Industry Centers, in which researchers have developed deep contextual knowledge on firm turbulence and heterogeneity, human capital measures and the sources of wage inequality and economic growth.”

The research is contained in the new book, Economic Turbulence: Is a Volatile Economy Good for America?, published by the University of Chicago Press. The book’s authors discuss a variety of factors that play a role in the chaotic changes that lead firms to grow and shrink and workers to change jobs. This turbulence can at times strengthen the U.S. economy by requiring it to be more flexible.

The bottom line is that newspaper anecdotes about lost jobs and disappearing career ladders typically fail to recognize that there are both winners and losers from economic turbulence. The book provides fact-based evidence about the real impact of economic change on workers and the firms that employ them.

For more information, please visit http://www.economicturbulence.com.