City governments have experienced increasing financial strain over the past several decades – pension payments are coming due, infrastructure needs replacing, and the cost of providing social services is increasing. This leaves little room for local governments to get on the social finance innovation train that has been sweeping the private sector for the past few decades, where bright minds have been exploring social enterprise, low-profit limited liability companies, impact investment, and more. However, many have recognized the importance of bridging the gap between private sector innovation and government, leading to organizations across the sectors investing time and money devising ideas that may fill this void.
Recently, The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced the competition to award its first National Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NMII). Proposers may focus on any advanced manufacturing technology area not already addressed by another institute or open competition. Seven institutes have been funded to date with two currently moving through the review and negotiation process. After attending the Proposer Day session on March 8, 2016, it is clear that many proposal teams have already been formed.
Fourth Economy welcomes Pia Bernardini to our team in the role of Operations Manager.
Pia oversees operations and administration for Fourth Economy. She has many years of experience in operations, marketing, and communications in the educational field in Washington, DC, and has been a key member of executive leadership teams, contributing to the development of strategic priorities and annual operational plans. Pia has strong project management skills and has had responsibility for operations, admissions, marketing, and data management. Her day-to-day tasks are focused on efficiency and consistency. She also has experience working at companies in periods of tremendous growth and change, including venture capital initiatives. She understands how to operate effectively in a start-up environment, developing creative solutions.
To many Americans, Canada is our friendly neighbor to the north, known for an affable attitude, a passion for pucks and a penchant for strong beer. What is perhaps less known is how critical trade with Canada is to the economy of the United States. Consider:
- Nearly 9 million U.S. jobs depend on trade and investment with Canada
- Canada is the top export destination for 35 states
- Canada is the number one supplier of crude oil, refined petroleum products, natural gas,
and electricity to the U.S. as well as a
leading supplier of uranium
- 400,000 people cross the Canada–U.S. border daily
While research and data can often predict trends in our economy, large, disruptive changes can have signifiant impacts on how we live our lives. The economy is changing rapidly, growing more interconnected and dynamic. Now more than every past trends do not indicate future performance. Unfortunately, the tools of economic analysis are much better at predicting stable patterns than at predicting significant inflection points and transitions. The data and methods of economics tells us about the past, so even when we do it well, it helps us to predict the stable patterns – it does not predict big disruptions like the housing collapse of 2008. In a recent webinar for the University Economic Development Association (UEDA), I discussed three areas of disruption that will have a major impact on most of our communities. 1) System Disruption, 2) Environmental Disruption, and 3) Cultural Disruption.
You can view the webinar here. This blog post is the first in a series that will explore how a specific community is preparing for one of these disruptions. Milwaukee has taken the issue of water head on. In 2009, a group of Milwaukee-area businesses, education and government leaders formed The Water Council as a 501(c)(3) organization with a mission of aligning the regional freshwater research community with water-related industries. The Water Council links global water technology companies, innovative water entrepreneurs, government, nonprofits, and researchers with a shared commitment to finding innovative solutions to critical global water issues.
At this point I think we are all familiar with the struggles facing Detroit Public Schools, at least on the surface: mushrooms growing in schools, teacher strikes, financial crisis. However, as detailed by this incredibly thorough and thoughtful report by LOVELAND Technologies, 200 years worth of poor decision-making led Detroit to where it is today. This speaks to the need for a new approach to public accountability in our education system. Recognizing the critical role of public education to economic development, in Nashville, it has been the Chamber that has been stepping up to provide that platform for accountability by conducting annual holistic assessments and concrete recommendations for improvement.
We recently had the opportunity to participate in the Inspire Speaker Series https://www.go-gba.org/events/inspire-speakers-series-and-p4-pittsburgh-present-jeremy-rifkin-and-bill-generett/ with 21 book author and advisor to global leaders, Jeremy Rifkin. His latest book, The Zero Marginal Cost Society (2014) builds on his thoughts contained in The Third Industrial Revolution (2013) and in general tightly describes the trends that many of us are starting to see in our work and in our communities. We strongly encourage you to take a look at his writings and TED talks as they help put a lot into perspective.
With that said, we would like to start a conversation about an area that we think was missing from this talk – that is the People aspect of the Third Industrial Revolution. Rifkin’s writings and presentations detail the path that has brought us to today and highlight some of the economists, scientists, theorists and leaders who have contributed to the journey. What is missing, though, is a contemplation of the actions of the masses and movements that have shaped and more importantly will shape our future. Rifkin does touch on the concept of the Commons as a way to describe points in time when the people have organized and mobilized, but there is more to contemplate here.
I would like to convey my great appreciation and affection for all of my Fourth Economy team, clients and community as I announce that I will be leaving the firm to take on the President and CEO position at the Altoona Blair County Development (ABCD) Corporation in Blair County, Pennsylvania later this spring.
ABCD President and CEO Martin J. Marasco announced his retirement last month following a highly acclaimed and recognized 40-year tenure. Marty and ABCD have been consistently recognized as one the highest performing economic development organizations in Pennsylvania and throughout the mid-Atlantic region. This move represents a return home for me. I grew up in Blair County and “cut my teeth” in the economic development world working with ABCD from 2000 to 2007 as Director of Corporate Services and Government Affairs.
Times like these are truly bitter sweet as my family and I prepare for this new professional and personal phase of our life. Rich, Jerry and I have been together for almost 10 years working with communities across the country and building Fourth Economy into the firm it is today – a firm with a very strong national brand and an assembly of the best group of professionals any firm can offer. It has been more family than business to me, so while I am truly excited about this opportunity, it is tough to leave a group of great close friends and colleagues.
So as I move back to the practitioner side of things, a sincere thanks to all for making my tenure here at Fourth Economy so rewarding on every level. Between February 1 and April 1, I can be reached by email at email@example.com.
On Tuesday, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) announced $126 million in state matching funds to support three regions in pursuing their visions for growth. The Regional Cities Initiative was developed based on a study of regions that have experienced transformational growth, performed last year by Fourth Economy, and is being funded by a tax amnesty program. Tuesday’s announcement was the culmination of months of planning on the part of Indiana’s regions, and Fourth Economy was fortunate enough to facilitate and advise on the strategy for two of the winning regions in those efforts – Northeast Indiana (home to Fort Wayne) and Michiana (home to South Bend). Here are a few lessons learned from our work helping multi-county, cross-sector partnerships identify and prioritize quality-of-life investments meant to attract and retain population.
The Fourth Economy team completed several client engagements this year in our home state of Pennsylvania. The Commonwealth’s economic character remains diverse, anchored on each side by first and second-class cities with just over 50 smaller third-class cities dominating the remaining landscape. While Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are realizing steady gains, in many ways the greatest opportunities and challenges remain in the smaller more rural communities. The good news is that increasingly shifts in resident preferences and the deployment of new technologies are placing these smaller, authentic communities in the bulls-eye for new investment in growth.
Among our Pennsylvania projects, the team worked with the City of Lebanon to develop a new economic development plan and downtown reinvestment strategy. We also worked with the Armstrong County School District just outside of Pittsburgh on a school building highest and best use analysis. And finally a project with the Butler County Community College (BC3) focused on developing an innovative new system for the delivery and promotion of its economic development services.