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. Continue reading “NIST Announces NMII Competition”
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
Fourth Economy Consulting has turned five and has topped over 200 client engagements in that short period. And by engagements, I mean that we have had the great fortune to partner with community leaders all over the country as they work to strengthen their organizations and communities. This experience has provided me with yes you guessed it, five notable trends that I wanted to share with you. Continue reading “Which Trend is Your Community Experiencing?”
You must know that I (and all of us at Fourth Economy) love local craft beer. It is among the first things we seek out when visiting both new and familiar communities across the country. Beyond the beer, we also love the places in which they are brewed – the small-towns and big-cities. Those revamped car dealership buildings – home to some favorites such as Fargo Brewing, ND and Kalispell Brewing, MT. That former “mom-pop” auto repair place at the end of dead-end dirt lane – visit Helltown Brewing in Mt. Pleasant, PA. The funky food trucks, local farm to table options and impromptu bluegrass open mic nights that round out the ever-changing scene and texture that is the craft brew pub experience. We love it all!
During our projects across the United States this past year, Fourth Economy has come across a number of initiatives for supporting local manufacturers and boosting the local economy. One approach gaining popularity is the state-based “Made In” branding and associated database of the state’s manufacturing businesses.
New 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”
The 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”
As we continue to move forward in restructuring our economy from the great recession, it is important to understand the phases of economic development in the U.S. This infographic illustrates how the pace of economic development has continually accelerated since the beginning of economic growth in the country.
In the early days development was driven by raw material extraction. Communities sprung up as wood, ore, silver, limestone and other materials were dug up or harvested and sent off to markets. From the 1850’s to the 1910’s economic development was driven by increased manufacturing activity. Communities formed near plants and at time the factories even built the communities for their workforce. Continue reading “Fourth Economy’s Law of Economic Development”
Here at Fourth Economy, we’re always looking for opportunities to identify and build upon local assets. This often takes the form of bringing together various stakeholders to advance specific technologies and sectors. We’re currently working on building more robust sectors around both energy and water here in the greater Pittsburgh region and beyond. Even though this work is challenging, a dense network of universities, technology intermediaries, economic development partners, and private sector businesses aids our work. But what happens when you leave the “big city” and those players are spread further across a region?
Admittedly it is awkward to boast about the economic recovery that is occurring in much of the Rust Belt. In our own neck of the woods, Akron, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Youngstown have all experienced strong recoveries. According to Brookings Youngstown Ohio ranked 8th out of 100 metro areas for job growth. Yes, Youngstown Ohio. Here are a few insights from Brookings’ Metro Monitor:
- Manufacturing regions in general led the recovery – Recovery in the automotive sector has helped the auto-producing regions – Recovery in Information Technology has also helped the IT regions.
- There might be signs of the regional impact of stimulus – “The metropolitan areas with the strongest economic recoveries generally gained government jobs, while those with the weakest recoveries generally lost them. Eleven of the 20 strongest-recovering metropolitan areas (Bakersfield, Boston, Dallas, Des Moines, Houston, McAllen, New Orleans, Provo, San Jose, Worcester, and Youngstown) gained government jobs (federal (including military), state, and local combined) in the time since their total employment bottomed out, while one (Lakeland) had no change in government employment.?”
I think these findings have interesting implications for the national debate going on right now about our economy and the role of the federal government. We always seem to want a clear Yes or No, Stop or Go type of answer and in a complex economy like the U.S. that is never easy. The truth is that what works for one region does not work for another. Maybe what is wrong is our idea of a national economic policy. It might work better if we created regional policies and plans to address the unique needs of regional employers, workers and the environment. The Obama Administration has attempted to do this with their support for Regional Innovation Clusters, but I think it will take a more fundamental restructuring of how federal agencies work. As long as we try to fit square regional pegs into round national policies, we are going to continue to be frustrated with our economic policy.