The huge cuts proposed by the White House budget put a lot of pressure on state and local administrators to figure out how to continue to provide government services. The best hedge against the potential federal cuts will be growing local and regional economies.
At a time in U.S. history when there has never been a greater technological pace of change and a greater mismatch of skills needed in the job marketplace, it seems unfathomable that the federal budget is on the precipice of slashing education and training services. But that is exactly what is happening. Employment and training programs are proposed to be cut by 38%. Severe cuts in education and many other government programs and services are also proposed.
“Ultimately, it will not be what Washington D.C. does, but what local regions do that will determine the future of the U.S. economy,” said Colleen LaRose, founder and president of the North East Regional Employment and Training Association (NERETA). “This is why we are holding the Job Creation Summit (summit.nereta.org) in Scranton, PA on June 14 and 15 – to bring together experts from all the different constituencies represented in economic growth strategies to teach teams of local administrators not only how to cope, but how to grow their economy. As businesses in these growing economies also grow, they can help support other local needs. And, as local economies grow, so will the national economy,” said LaRose.
So, why haven’t so many local and regional economies embraced these growth strategies in the past?
“Some like Austin and San Diego obviously have,” notes Bill Holstein, international business journalist and author of The Next American Economy: Blueprint for a Real Recovery. “I have spent decades criss-crossing the United States and the world to understand who’s winning and who’s losing in the global economy and there are reasons why some regions are winners and other regions are not. Many of those reasons have to do with the actions taken (or not taken) by local institutions.”
Holstein continued, “That is why I have volunteered to act as moderator for the two days of the Job Creation Summit. All the players in a region need to learn what they can do to optimize growth. These strategies can be taught and this summit is bringing in the right expertise to teach precisely that.”
“The key is the concept of clusters of related economic activity,” Holstein continued. “Regions that are winners have found a niche to specialize in and then collaborate to help that region become known for that specialty. There becomes a symbiotic relationship in the region between that industry and the people who live there. There is a vision for the region and a commitment from everyone who lives there to make that vision become real.”
Besides not using cluster strategies, what else has crippled regional growth strategies? According to Charles Vollmer, founder of Jobenomics who will be the luncheon speaker on June 14, regions have been focusing on old industries. “Some regions lag behind because they are looking at the old economy,” says Vollmer. “All metrics, (like federal government statistics) are set up for the industrial era. They don’t look at the new digital economy. The old economy is growing at 1 or 2 percent but the digital economy is growing at 15 to 20 percent. Other countries put us to shame when it comes to the digital economy.” Using the modern strategies of the digital economy, Jobenomics is on a mission to create 20 million new jobs over the course of a decade by creating alliances and partnerships in cities and regions. “
LaRose said this is the first time that a conference has brought together cross disciplines (workforce development, economic development and higher education) to teach regional growth strategies. “We are excited about the amazing expertise being brought to bear at this Summit,” she said. “For example, Linda Cruz Carnall, NE Regional Director at U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, will be attending and will be sharing information about new funding available through the EDA. Other speakers we have coming include the director of technology transfer from Cornell University, Alice Li, Dr. Patricia Greene from Babson University’s Entrepreneurship program, Maria Meyers from Sourcelink, Erik Pages from Entreworks and Laurence Gottlieb- President and CEO Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation to name just a few.”
LaRose concluded, “These highly respected speakers are coming to help these regional teams learn because they understand that taking a local team approach will be the only way to help mitigate the impact of the enormous funding cuts anticipated from the Federal government.”
The agenda and list of speakers is available at summit.nereta.org.
North East Regional Employment and Training Association (NERETA)