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WIRED: New York December 21, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, WIRED, Workforce.
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The Finger Lakes WIRED initiative awarded $145,476 in training grants to 14 businesses:

Monroe County: SenDEC Corp., $18,000; Magnus Education LLC, $13,910; Amdex Computer Inc., $12,905; Riverside Automation, $12,000; Micro Systems Corp., $7,878; Reflexite, $4,900; Genesee Group, $4,648.

Livingston: Hurricane Technologies, $6,189; ARKEMA Inc., $1,120.

Ontario: Tariff Affiliates Inc., $14,286; Surmotech Inc., $6,215; CTC Online, $1,600.

Wayne: IEC Electronics, $3,610.

Wyoming: Steel & O’Brien, $38,215.

I wish that descriptions of the traning grants were published, but congratulations to the grant recipients nonetheless!


WIRED: Indiana plans unveiled December 20, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Education, WIRED, Workforce.
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The White County Economic Development director, Connie Neininger, and Purdue WIRED project director, Mark Smith, presented an overview of the Indiana WIRED program to the White County Commissioners:

[The WIRED project] has as its goals the support of local and regional entrepreneurship, preparing business for the aging population and mature workforce while equipping mature workers for jobs and building innovation and job growth in the industries of advanced manufacturing, advanced materials and agribusiness, food production and technology.

“We need to leverage all these assets; that’s what this grant is about,” said Smith. “It’s important to build networks; we’re trying to find the best ideas so everyone can use them.”

Neininger said asset mapping will be a focus of the group meetings in early 2007 so that through this sharing, White County, for example, might learn of a program in Tipton County that’s making it easier for entrepreneurs to get started. That idea then might translate to have the same impact here at home. Then, WIRED grant funds help make the project a reality.

But more research and information is needed so that White County can best use the funds it has available and part of that will come through public meetings over the next several months said Neininger.

WIRED: Indiana staff hire December 20, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Education, Innovation, WIRED, Workforce.
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The Purdue University Technical Assistance Program hired Christy Bozic as its manager of business innovation.  Ms. Bozic will be funded by WIRED for the first three years of her position.

Dave McKinnis, TAP Director: “Christy will be responsible for helping manufacturers with product development, manufacturing processes, supply-chain development, strategy development, business management and other related issues. She also will work closely with economic development leaders, work force development organizations, governmental offices and university contacts to help companies create and implement their plans for innovative practices.”

Bozic: “The biggest mistake companies make is thinking that they have to move oversees to reduce cost.  There are new, innovative ways to use the incumbent work force. Retraining and keeping new graduates in-state are key.”

WIRED: Colorado, North Carolina, Montana December 14, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Education, WIRED, Workforce.
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A good day for WIRED news…

COLORADO: The Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation is starting the Colorado Energy Coalition to advance the Rocky Mountain State’s position in the emerging energy industry. And there’s a WIRED tie-in:

The CEC also wants to help ensure the state has a highly educated, well-trained work force for the energy sector. The coalition will work with the Metro Denver WIRED Initiative, a $15 million U.S. Department of Labor grant intended to increase the number of skilled workers for the region’s fastest-growing industries, such as energy.

Kevin Thompson from the US Department of Labor’s Employment & Training Administration forwarded me this complementary article from the Denver Post.

The Denver EDC offers this energy cluster overview, which is worth a read if you want to learn more about how Denver is selling itself to the energy sector.  Lots of skilled workforce data in there.

NORTH CAROLINA: Representatives of Piedmont Triad, the managing partner in the Tar Heel State’s 12-county WIRED initiative, will be attending the 19th Annual Performance Racing Industry trade show in Orlando this weekend. The article discusses motorsports’ importance to North Carolina and the fact that Piedmont Triad is leading WIRED, but no other direct ties are made. Will North Carolina be investing WIRED money in the motorsports industry?

MONTANA: The Montana State Univesity-Billings College of Technology received $1.99 million from the Federal government’s Community-Based Job Training Grant program for the creation of an Energy Workforce Training and Development Center. In part, the grant will “support the educational needs of the State of Montana WIRED (Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development) initiative to advance the development of biofuels, natural and renewable resources.”

WIRED: Northwest Florida overview December 13, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, WIRED, Workforce.
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The Gulf Breeze News offers a concise overview of the 16-county, “Great Northwest” Florida WIRED project. While not revealing anything particularly new, the article did a good job touching the high points. I especially liked their program options and target industry listing:

The WIRED initiative for Northwest Florida includes:

  • Entrepreneurship development designed to enable qualifying start-up companies to secure seed capital.
  • Grants enabling job training for new and existing businesses in the target industries.
  • Secondary education academy development for entrylevel employment in selected industries or accelerated college preparation in the subject areas of math and science.
  • Outreach programs to educate and attract students of all ages into training programs to meet workforce demands.
  • Strategic development component designed to ensure workforce development programs are developing skills necessary to meet current and future target industry needs.

The target industries as defined by the state are:

  • Aerospace and defense
  • Medical device manufacturing, biotechnology and health services where 70 percent of the company’s revenue is generated by sales outside of the Northwest Florida region.
  • Information technology, software development and Electronics engineering.
  • Construction materials manufacturing
  • Distribution activities that support the target industries.

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.


WIRED update: Alabama-Mississippi, Maine, Connecticut, New York, Virginia-West Virginia December 5, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Innovation, WIRED, Workforce.
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Many updates from the world of WIRED:

Alabama-Mississippi: Businessman Tommy Dulaney received the Meridian Junior Auxiliary’s Humanitarian of the Year Award. He is a member of the Alabama-Mississippi WIRED (Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development) Project.

Maine (free registration required): Maine’s WIRED project was discussed at a seminar on manufacturing innovation called “American Competitiveness: Global Innovation Networks vs. Regional Innovation Hubs,” held at the Council for Foreign Relations in New York City:

Karen Gordon Mills [discussed] innovation on the small scale. Mills, who founded Solera Capital in 1999, has been involved in a project to revitalize Maine’s shipbuilding industry by forming a cluster of manufacturers and local academic institutions that collectively will help develop the workforce, the brand, and the innovation that goes into shipbuilding.

The project benefited from a $5 million grant obtained through the U.S. Department of Labor’s WIRED program (Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development). Following the success of the shipbuilding cluster, Mills said, Maine is looking to create 10 more throughout the state.

This is a really good article that deserves a read as it places the WIRED initiative firmly in the context of larger business innovation notions – in this case, regional manufacturing innovation.


WIRED: Milwaukee update December 3, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, WIRED, Workforce.
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Thanks to Kevin Thompson at the US Department of Labor’s Employment  Training Administration for this link to an article from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, on Assistant Secretary of Labor Emily DeRocco’s recent visit to Milwaukee:

“In an era of global competition, many former competitors have a common economic fate, so they must join together to create a common economic future,” DeRocco said at a meeting of the Regional Workforce Alliance, at the Brookfield Suites Hotel.

The alliance is a complement to the Milwaukee 7, a regional economic development coalition involving the seven counties of Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha. DeRocco’s office has granted the alliance financial and technical support along with 25 other regions nationwide.

Half of those regions are receiving three-year grants of $15 million each. The Milwaukee region is among 13 areas designated as “runner-up” recipients and so far has received $100,000 in planning funds. DeRocco also spoke of another round of investments, saying she hopes to have an announcement soon.

The alliance also has received $260,000 so far through a state program promoting multi-county collaboration on work force efforts.


WIRED: Alabama-Mississippi lays out its vision November 21, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Innovation, WIRED, Workforce.
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The WIRED staff laid out the four main goals of their 37-county WIRED program to community leaders at Meridian Community College.  This is a good sign, as I was starting to wonder where this high visibility program was headed while other WIRED programs were already distributing grant monies.

• Goal No. 1: Create a regional identity. This means getting all the leaders in the region to focus on a “build it” attitude, rather than a “fix it” attitude. The WIRED team wants people to think regionally, not locally.

• Goal No. 2: Build entrepreneurship and support this by creating people, places and programs that are friendly toward innovation. Celebrate the successes of entrepreneurs.

• Goal No. 3: Create a regionalized worker certification program. What that means: Students who receive training at any of the eight community colleges in the 37-county region have the skills to do a job, but they have something else as well — a certification recognized throughout the region.

And tracking these workers means an incoming business owner can make a call and know how many workers fit their requirements.

• Goal No. 4: Finally, the WIRED team wants to bring the program into the K-12 educational system — provide schools with programs that encourage entrepreneurship, innovation and skills needed for the future.

WIRED: 2 regional blogs pick up on the action October 30, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Opinion, WIRED, Workforce.
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Part of the effectiveness of programs like WIRED will come from its concepts entering the public consciousness. You can see some of that within the media, but another form will be the online communities of blogs.

To that end, Electric City Renaissance (Scranton, PA) and the John Locke Foundation’s Piedmont (NC) Publius add links to their respective region’s WIRED projects. Good for them. Hopefully, they will eventually offer independent observations of WIRED from their regions.

[UPDATE] Sam Hieb, author of the Piedmont Publius blog entry, refers to an article he wrote in Carolina Journal when the North Carolina WIRED program was announced.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that, as a workforce professional, I’ll agree to disagree with the premise of the article. Targeted workforce training initiatives that are designed to meet market demands for specific workers makes perfect sense, especially in this global economy. If the Unites States isn’t offering workforce programming to match, if not exceed, programming by our worldwide competitors…well, that’s unilateral disarmament in the talent wars.  There are many, many ways to better misspend the people’s monies.