FEC Projects Impact for One-of-a-Kind Trail Plan: Pike2Bike

Pike2BikeThere is a potential big deal brewing in the world of trails. The FEC team always challenges our clients to identify their unique value proposition.  What sets your community or region apart from all others?  A major destination trail envisioned for an abandoned portion of the Pennsylvania Turnpike would do just that for Bedford and Fulton Counties.  Continue reading “FEC Projects Impact for One-of-a-Kind Trail Plan: Pike2Bike”

Pennsylvania Life Science Industry – A Quick Check on the Numbers

LifeSciencesTwo year’s ago this month the Fourth Economy team completed an assignment for the Pennsylvania Life Science Leadership Advisory Council. At a news event in May 2012 we participated in the release of “Life Sciences Leadership for the Next Decade: Nurturing a Life Science Ecosystem for Job Creation and Economic Development in Pennsylvania”. This report highlighted five steps and related actions that the life science community could undertake to maintain the economic impact of the life science industry in the state. Continue reading “Pennsylvania Life Science Industry – A Quick Check on the Numbers”

Makers, Starters, and Youngsters – The Evolution of Pittsburgh’s Workforce Development

Burgh-BridgeAs chairperson of the Workforce Development, Jobs, and Human Capital Subcommittee of the Economic Development Transition Team assembled by our new Mayor, Bill Peduto, I had the opportunity to meet with some of the high-level leaders driving workforce development in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. While our short time frame prevented me from interviewing all the persons of interest, executives at UPMC, the Allegheny Conference, TechShop, the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, the Coro Center for Civic Leadership, the Workforce Investment Board, the Youth Policy Council, the Small Business Development Center at Pitt, the New App for Making it in America, and others were able to make time to meet with members of our sub-committee on extremely short notice. Beyond the executive level input we received from the community, our subcommittee was highly qualified to make recommendations to the administration on the merit of our own qualifications. We were made up of small business owners, consultants, labor union executives, student researchers, and native Pittsburghers. From my experiences interacting with this collection of experts, three segments of workforce development opportunities emerged that are dominating the market today and into Pittsburgh’s future. Continue reading “Makers, Starters, and Youngsters – The Evolution of Pittsburgh’s Workforce Development”

The University Economic Engine

UnivEconEngineColleges and universities are a critical driver for regional and national development.  They are critical to the well being of our nation and the communities that they serve, as much as these institutions depend on vibrant communities and a strong nation for their own success. Deregulation of banks and utilities have weakened the traditional economic development partnership, leaving colleges and universities as the one viable partner that shares and shapes community goals.  Colleges and universities have been strong job creators, adding more than 341,000 jobs in the last ten years. Continue reading “The University Economic Engine”

Three Lessons Learned in the Past Three Years

130909-Turning-ThreeWe are celebrating our 3rd corporate birthday this week and it provides an opportunity to reflect on what we’ve learned. First, the pace of economic and community development continues to quicken as major global shifts drive business and social planning. Three years ago we were all worrying about the long-term impacts of the great recession, as unemployment was 9.6% with little sign of an end. Today, in many sectors we are working on strategies to not just keep the domestic jobs growing but also to bring them back by ‘making it in America’. As we have been saying for the past three years, the economic and community development toolbox must expand to include new models of planning for place, new types of infrastructure, and most importantly the people in our communities. Continue reading “Three Lessons Learned in the Past Three Years”

This is What I Have Always Wanted To Do: On The Economy, Jobs, and Student College Majors

130828-Always-WantedLast week, college students- freshmen through PhDs- embarked on yet another semester of working toward graduation. But to what end? How will they benefit from a college degree? Simultaneously, how will our economy benefit from having college graduates in the workforce? Economically, the question of why individuals choose specific skill sets is important to ask when considering workforce development and economic growth in a region. Employers demand certain skill sets for the jobs they are trying to fill and college graduates need jobs to pay for their mounting student loans. Despite the lower unemployment rates among college graduates, there remains a mismatch between what job skills employers need and what students “want” to select as majors. Employers remain desperate and scrambling for individuals with the skill sets needed to fill job openings and allow employers to grow their businesses. Continue reading “This is What I Have Always Wanted To Do: On The Economy, Jobs, and Student College Majors”

The Best of the Top of the Greatest

Photo-Rustiq-TemplateFor economic and community developers, a new “best of” and “top places” ranking season is underway.  While it may not be as popular as basketball’s March Madness, there is no doubt that economic and community performance rankings attract a lot of attention. They are of great interest to the media, elected officials, the business community and residents at-large.

But rankings are only one part of a very complex economic performance story. Compounding their use and reliability is the fact that not all adopt the most rigorous, relevant or transparent methods.  And positive or negative scores do not impact all business investment decision-making in the same way.
Continue reading “The Best of the Top of the Greatest”

Eds, Meds & Feds: The Innovation Economy in the DC Metro Region

Although governments have been reluctant to resort to New Deal-style direct job creation, agencies at all levels are seeking ways to accelerate the current economic recovery. One of the most reliable formulas researchers have identified for private-sector growth has been the regional innovation cluster model. Regions build upon their existing university programs, industrial capacity and technology strengths to develop a competitive advantage that promotes export-driven growth with high-value jobs. Some regional planners proudly report that their innovation clusters provide “5% of the companies, 10% of the jobs and 20% of the payroll.” Continue reading “Eds, Meds & Feds: The Innovation Economy in the DC Metro Region”

Innovation Clusters: Water is Gold

Forget the gold rush.  A “water rush” is underway and water rich states are well positioned.

Just a few short years ago businesses expanding or relocating were likely to cite broadband and transportation networks among the most important factors in their decision process.  The Southwestern U.S. has been targeted for the majority of this investment activity. But with below average snowpack, higher temperatures, growing consumption, and extreme drought appearing to be the new normal, water has quickly become the new gold.

Continue reading “Innovation Clusters: Water is Gold”

Gross Domestic People or Gross Domestic Product: Is GDP Leaving out People?

On a recent trip to the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, I realized that community leaders are marketing the economy to investors in terms of job growth, sector growth, and migration numbers. This comes as little surprise during a time when Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has indicated that the Great Recession of 2009 is long past. However, employment numbers have looked less promising. For years, GDP has been the economic measure of choice for the United States and for other countries. Policymakers, analysts, and academics have focused on GDP as the primary variable to both understand economic growth and to manipulate in order to change the economic condition. However, in our daily lives we care less about GDP growth than we care about payroll income and job security. Continue reading “Gross Domestic People or Gross Domestic Product: Is GDP Leaving out People?”