spreading the story
When I was a keynote speaker for The Competitiveness Institute last year, I was swamped by people who wanted to talk about the failure of the clustering model of economic development. They were from Africa, Ireland, South America— many other nations and regions around the world. “Why did some work, some seem to work only to fail later and some never get off the ground””, they wanted to know. I stayed an hour talking with them.
Sept 29th, Obama gave a speech that may foster the same questions in a few years. The call is to return to innovation as the basis of greatness. They Office of the President’s Economic Council issued a white paper to announce and detail this call for a Strategy for American Innovation. The intention is very important—sustainable growth and quality jobs. And they are to be place-based, meaning in their case the “targeting of places and drawing on the compounding effect of cooperative arrangements”. The intention is a good start. But it has the same challenges as the concept of clustering, which is also promoted by the National Council of Economic Development. Until they understand the living systems approach to organizing economic planning and exchange among humans, we will have the same failures, shortfalls and episodic successes that cannot be rationally unexplained.
I will say here, what I said to the folks at The Competitiveness Institute, from regions, cities and counties who inundated me with their questions. You can only succeed IF you organize around the unique story of that Place. That is the true meaning of place-based. Otherwise it is like trying to change careers at mid-life because you want to make more money and you have defined your next career move based on what is paying the most at the moment. It likely is not something you are particularly suited to or even evokes something you are passionate about. Not a good career defining process. Better to be who you are in life, uniquely, and so it is for your city and region. That is what Story of Place branding and development process is about. It grows sustainable economies and quality jobs that spark and regenerate innovation as a part of its nature. It is built into the infrastructure. More