PA Standing at the Ready: Creating Proactive Strategies for Potential Changes in Defense Spending

PA-Defense-ManufacturingDefense Department budgets are in flux. Factors such as the Budget Control Act, reductions or shifts in spending related to the drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan and responses to future threats could all create significant economic disruptions for Pennsylvania’s defense industry sectors and the regions they call home.  The state’s defense industry leaders and the communities that support them cannot afford to risk being caught unprepared by waiting for news of budget changes and then reacting to them.  Instead, it is imperative that the sector understands potential risks and prepares for them proactively.   Continue reading “PA Standing at the Ready: Creating Proactive Strategies for Potential Changes in Defense Spending”

Balancing Energy, Air Quality, and a Sense of Place in Pittsburgh

Air-QualityOn Monday June 29, 2015 the United States Supreme Court brought air quality into the limelight when it ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency failed to fully consider the cost to energy producers of limiting air emissions.  While the need to balance the costs of regulation against the intended social benefit is nothing new, the highest court of law held the EPA to that standard just months after the Urban Land Institute reported in America in 2015 that quality of environment (including air and water quality) is the top community attribute priority for people choosing a place to live in 2015. Continue reading “Balancing Energy, Air Quality, and a Sense of Place in Pittsburgh”

Arts, Culture and the Economy: Fourth Economy Participates in the Unsung Majority Rollout

141106-Art-CouncilAs part of our ongoing efforts to engage with the sectors that drive economic development, Fourth Economy joined the Pittsburgh Arts Research Committee (PARC)—an advisory committee to the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council. The PARC worked with the Heinz Endowments and the Pittsburgh Foundation to review and comment on their study of small and mid-sized arts organizations in and around Pittsburgh, PA. On October 28, the Heinz Endowments and the Pittsburgh Foundation rolled out the final report with a daylong event including panel discussions, breakout sessions and networking called The Unsung Majority. Continue reading “Arts, Culture and the Economy: Fourth Economy Participates in the Unsung Majority Rollout”

Blurring Boundaries: Creating Regional Competitiveness Through Collaboration

PCRG-Community-Development-Summit

An Article About the 4th Annual Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group Community Development Summit

Collaboration is more popular than ever.  It is also more necessary than ever as our most pressing problems continue to increase in complexity. Our problems are challenging and they spill over geographical boundaries and jurisdictional political lines that are sometimes arbitrarily or historically created. The people that form the economies of our region often don’t understand those boundaries in the same way that economic developers and community organizers do and that increases the need for collaboration across boundaries.

Pittsburgh is a community that talks a lot about collaboration. There are several organizations focused on increasing collaborative efforts and using those collaborations to increase the competitiveness of this region. Even at the highest levels of the cities leadership—the Mayor’s office—collaboration has become a central focus. This year, at the 4th Annual PCRG Summit, Fourth Economy moderated a panel of four leaders that offered practical advice to participants on how to make partnerships more productive.

Continue reading “Blurring Boundaries: Creating Regional Competitiveness Through Collaboration”

The Launch of Innovate H2O

Innovate-H2ONew ideas fuel the fourth economy.  But they need the right talent, money and a market ready to greet them.  There are few market opportunities that need new ideas and innovation than those within the water sector.  In 2012, Fourth Economy helped to launch the Water Economy Network (WEN).  A key goal for WEN and its industry members is to encourage new water related technology development and deployment.  To help WEN achieve that goal, Fourth Economy and WEN joined with Idea Foundry (a Pittsburgh-based non-profit that specializes in innovation acceleration and commercialization) to launch a water technology acceleration program called Innovate H2O. Innovate H2O is a program aimed at identifying and accelerating breakthrough solutions that address global water challenges. Continue reading “The Launch of Innovate H2O”

Declining Higher Ed R&D Expenditures: A Crisis or an Opportunity?

131220-University-RD-BudgetA recent National Science Foundation (NSF) report revealed that R&D expenditures among U.S. higher education institutions remained flat in FY2012 compared to FY2011, and, when adjusted for inflation, declined by 1.1 percent. “This represents the first constant-dollar decline since 1974 and ends a period of modest growth during FYs 2009–11, when R&D expenditures increased an average of 5% each year.”

While this statistic is newsworthy, it may not be as much of a crisis as it first seems. Continue reading “Declining Higher Ed R&D Expenditures: A Crisis or an Opportunity?”

Small Towns, Great Gowns, Big Opportunities

131024-Town-GownIn recent months our Fourth Economy team has been hard at work on several town-gown development projects.  It’s time to share a few lessons learned.  First, if you live in a smaller town and are fortunate enough to have an institution of higher education close by, don’t squander the opportunity to build upon this high value asset – embrace it, leverage it, and cultivate it.

While the many positives associated with town-gown partnerships may be obvious to most of us, surprisingly those positives often need to be clearly identified, communicated and tactically acted upon. Continue reading “Small Towns, Great Gowns, Big Opportunities”

Witnessing Collaboration Across the Nation

131022-Regional-CollaborationRight now, Fourth Economy is fortunate enough to be working in two communities on private sector-led regional economic development. The first is a group of self-organized group of private sector and higher education leader in the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota (the major metropolitan areas are Fargo-Moorhead and Grand Forks-East Grand Forks).  This group known as the Valley Prosperity Partnership is looking in to identify regional economic security interests and leverage the booming energy economy in Western North Dakota. The second community involves a group of private sector stakeholders convened by the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation and the Rhode Island Foundation to inform both the Statewide Sustainable Communities planning and the work of the sponsoring organizations. Continue reading “Witnessing Collaboration Across the Nation”

What’s New in Economic Impact

131022-What's-New-in-Economic-ImpactHaving personally conducted and written more than 75 comprehensive economic impact studies using linear cash flow models for higher education and health care clients over my 16+ year career, I thought it would be interesting to look more closely at how the focus of economic impact reports has changed over the years.  Continue reading “What’s New in Economic Impact”

3 Economic Development Trends that are Closer than they Appear

131022-Economic-Development-TrendsThe practice of economic development is like driving using only the side view mirrors – you can’t even see exactly where you’ve been, but you can see the edge of the path you’ve been taking.  We try to guide ourselves forward with tools that are built for where we’ve been. Part of this rear-view navigation results from using a lot of tools that were developed to fix the problems of the past.  But it is also because we have very little useful predictive information about the future.  The majority of economic data is old.  If we have any information about what happened even a month ago, it is somewhere between a guesstimate and an approximation of the actual conditions.  By the time we manage to collect and verify the best information we can get, it is still incomplete and its shelf-life is expired.  Despair.com makes a poster, “Economics:  The science of explaining tomorrow why the predictions you made yesterday didn’t come true today.”

So while we can’t do a very good of predicting where the economy is headed, there are some trends coming up in our side view mirrors that are closer than they appear, or already passing by. Continue reading “3 Economic Development Trends that are Closer than they Appear”