Friday, September 04, 2015

These cities will power the U.S. economy, and we'll just be the landfill.

It comes as no surprise that as we prepare to endure nine months of mind-numbing daily discussions about University of Louisville and University of Kentucky football and basketball, neither Louisville nor Lexington rank very high on the list of cities with the most science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) jobs.

I know -- the world needs ditch diggers, too, and but when was the last time you heard anyone connected with New Albany municipal government talk about articles like this, even in casual conversation over wretched light beer?

For four years, we've been told that a water park, subsidized "luxury" apartments and the beautification of .8 of a mile on precisely one major street will combine with several million other "quality of life" dollars (and a few hundred thousand gallons of Kool-Aid) to pull our city out of the doldrums.

Except that none of these actions even acknowledge the real questions, much less answer them.

How do we keep our best and brightest here, and attract others of like skill?

How can a water park ever do this?

To cite just one example, not only has David Duggins had no identifiable economic development policies apart from delivering boilerplate CF1 tax abatement forms to a snoozing council twice monthly, but when Mark Cassidy began regularly questioning the rubber-stamping, quite a few of these forms proved to have been filled out incorrectly.

No one ever bothered to look. Millions of fast food employees have been terminated for less.

No, we're not likely to be Huntsville, Alabama, at least any time soon. At the same time, we need to be inventorying community assets and considering future economic development locales outside the "always done it this way" box, or it's going to be a tough commute, sans paddle, on River Ridge Creek.

The Unlikely Cities That Will Power the U.S. Economy, by Christopher Cannon, Patrick Clark, Jeremy Scott Diamond, and Laurie Meisler (Bloomberg Business)

A decade ago, Richard Myers was the director of the Department of Genetics at the Stanford University School of Medicine, where he enjoyed the fruits of a rich endowment and his pick of faculty members and graduate students. So he left behind some befuddled scientists when, in 2008, he left Palo Alto, Calif., for Huntsville, Ala., to launch an independent research lab, the HudsonAlpha Institute.

“‘My God, you’re leaving Stanford for Alabama?’” Myers recalls colleagues asking. “‘What’s wrong with you?’”

Huntsville may not seem like an obvious place to base a center for genomics, a branch of biology concerned with DNA sequences that requires expensive hardware and even greater investment in human capital. Alabama ranks in the bottom 10 U.S. states for educational attainment and median income.

Yet Huntsville, nestled in a hilly region in the northern part of the state, turns out to be a great place to recruit high-tech workers. As of May 2014, 16.7 percent of workers in the metropolitan area held a job in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics—STEM, for short—making it the third most technical workforce in the country after San Jose, Calif., and Framingham, Mass., a Bloomberg analysis of Labor Department statistics shows.

Huntsville is one of a growing number of smaller U.S. cities, far from Silicon Valley, that are seeking to replace dwindling factory jobs by reinventing themselves as tech centers. Across the Midwest, Northeast, and South, mayors and governors are competing to attract tech companies and workers.

1 comment:

w&la said...

Better to tell the public stories about non-existent "Gigabit internet" service in apartments than install fiber optic lines to attract good paying tech jobs?