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September 28, 2006

Our week in the El Paso region has been amazing. We will have much more to tell over the next few weeks, but we are psyched. The ideas/initiatives that are coming out have the potential to not only transform El Paso, but also change the way American's view and manage our relationship with Mexico.

For those interested, here is a very interesting report provided to us by John B. (our Data Dude) of UTEP. The title of the report is, "At the Cross Roads: US / Mexico Border Counties."

Here is the abstract...

"In 1998, former Texas Comptroller John Sharp published Bordering the Future: Challenge and Opportunity in the Texas Border Region,which provided an assessment of the economic, political, and social condition of the Texas border counties. This report, commissioned by the US / Mexico Border Counties Coalition, extends those findings to all of the 24 U.S. counties that are contiguous with Mexico. As a region, if these 24 counties were the 51st state, how would they compare with the rest of the nation?"

September 26, 2006

Well, the team is on the road again and this week we are in El Paso, Texas. Beautiful El Paso I should say.

We will be working with 30 community catalysts for a full two days -- learning about their city (and its major status as an entry point for goods and services from the Mexico). Following these initial two days of The El Paso Creative Cities Leadership Project, RFCG will work with the group over the next year to help create and implement transformational initiatives. It is gonna be great.

BTW, we had a phenomenal lunch at Chico's Tacos today.

(posted by David)

September 25, 2006

Pittsburgh is a city close to the heart of RFCG. Many of us have deep connections there, but, like so many others from Pittsburgh, we have moved on to other places.

I recently came across the Burgh Diaspora Blog produced by a member of the diaspora named Jim Russell. According to Russell,

"During the Summer of 2005, I decided I wanted to help Pittsburgh. I've been involved in a Steelers fansite for over 5 years and I noticed that the folks who left the region still retain a strong affiliation with their hometown. This is a very talented community with a distinct identity. I figured the answer to Pittsburgh's recent woes is tapping the resources of this yet-to-be-organized network."

Russell's blog covers Pittsburgh directly, but also similar migration trends and strategies affecting other parts of the country (including the state of Iowa and Buffalo, NY).

We will be following Russell's blog and network and look forward to seeing the fruits of his strategy. (I know I am sending his blog on to other members of the diaspora.)

(posted by Richard)

September 24, 2006

We had an incredible experience during the Creative Cities Leadership Seminar in Tacoma this past week and worked with 30 creative and engaged people (their names and professional associations are included in the article below).

Dan Voelpel, a business columnist for The News Tribune observed portions of the event and has penned a new piece. Here are a few bits from Voelpel's column,

"Florida and his research team probed Tacoma-Pierce County for weeks – in what must qualify as the most comprehensive statistical exam ever – to diagnose our overall economic health and issue a prosperity prognosis for our future...

Wednesday morning, 30 people from the Tacoma-Pierce County area met with Florida’s team to hear the doctor’s diagnosis. The Creative Thirty will spend the next year developing and pushing a series of initiatives designed to boost the appeal of Tacoma-Pierce County in all those creative-class categories...

Florida’s team had graded us on 44 statistical categories, compiled results from a 25-question community survey filled out by 859 of us, assembled the analyses of 30 focus groups conducted by the Creative Thirty, compared us to the 330 other metropolitan areas of the U.S and ranked us against 42 metro areas of similar size...

You, here in Tacoma-Pierce County, sit in the middle of one of the top-five most vibrant, creative mega-regions in North America and one of the top 10 globally...

The world wants to be a part of it. The world is moving here. And that puts you in a position that 90 percent of the world’s population is envious of..."

Again, we loved working with Tacoma-Pierce County and are looking forward to its progress over the next year. We'll keep updating the blog as the group moves ahead.

(posted by David)

September 21, 2006

A new report from the Milken Institute titled, "Mind to Market: A Global Analysis of University Biotechnology Transfer and Commercialization," examines the process of university technology transfer. The process began three decades ago when researchers @ UCSF and Stanford began to develop commercial applications for their research into DNA (the birth of the biotech industry).

While the summary table on p.9 of the Milken report (login in required) shows that the US has 8 of the top 10 universities, foreign universities are doing really well with University of Tokyo (#2), University of London (#3), and Osaka, Kyoto, Cambridge, and Oxford in the top 20 (ahead of MIT and University of Michigan among others).

My sense is the tables were turn dramatically in the next decade. For the first time, one can see the levelling of technological capabilities in a sector, industry, economy-defining field.

This, more than anything else I can think of, shows the improvement of universities outside the US at the scientific frontier.

My hunch is that these data still do NOT capture the significant "damage" that has been done as a result of recent immigration, research, science policies in US, and increased recruitment abroad.

(posted by Richard)

September 20, 2006

Richard and members the RFCG Team are currently in Tacoma, Washington working with 30 community catalysts for a full two days. Following the two day event (The Tacoma-Pierce County Creative Cities Leadership Seminar), RFCG will work with the group over the next year to help the 'Tacoma 30' develop tranformational initiatives for their community.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce has been instrumental in organizing this. The group will make use of 3 T data, occupational data from the BLS, and qualitative data compiled by the 'Tacoma 30' over the last month to guide it as it plans unique initiatives for the Tacoma community and economy.

We are really excited about this, first-ever Creative Cities Leadership Seminar and updates will come as we move forward with our friends in Tacoma-Pierce County.

(posted by David)

September 19, 2006

As mentioned on this blog the other day, Steven Pedigo, research manager for the Greater Washington Initiative was the guest moderator of an online discussion at the WashingtonPost.com earlier today.

The transcript is up and it is an interesting read with questions about greater DC, Peoria, mixed use development, and the role of openness in creative environments. Here is a taste:

"Q: Washington, D.C.: Economist Jane Jacobs wrote that cities should be the economic units of comparison, not states or countries. Considering vibrant cities attract the biggest economic contributors to national economies, so far as they don't attract too many people who aren't substantial contributors to the urban economy (according to Jacobs), how should cities act to attract talent -- how should DC weigh social costs of gentrification with growing vibrancy?

A: Steven W. Pedigo: Ok Washington, DC...

Jacobs' The Death and Life of Great American Cities is one of my favorite books. Jacobs would say that a successful city/ region has to have folks of all backgrounds and income levels. So you're right on target. The region must be mindful of this as it changes and grows. Just off the top of my head, measures for growing inequality could be the increase of property taxes on fixed income residents, the migration of residents to more "affordable areas," etc.

In terms of attracting and retaining world-class talent, a region/ city can emphasize the strong ties to local universities and industries and market the desirable regional assets. In terms of marketing, my organization, the Greater Washington Initiative (GWI) just launched a new ad campaign that builds on the region's highly educated workforce. You can check our ads out on our website."

(posted by David)

September 18, 2006

Washington Post writer Annys Shin spent a day touring greater Washington DC with Richard and describes the tour, Richard's thoughts on DC's music roots, and the changing cities and neighborhoods in and around DC.

(posted by David)

September 14, 2006

Well, I'm at it again, cranking away at a new book - and I have a huge favor to ask you.  I want your stories.

See, this book is about how people pick the places they live and why that's the single most important decision they'll ever make. It's a book for you, any of you, wondering about all the different options out there.  Here's is what I'd like for you to do:

Tell me about the place you live.  Why did you pick your city or region? How did you go about picking it - what was your strategy? What other kinds of places did you look at?  How has that choice affected the rest of your life?  Your job or career?  Friends, family, or romantic interests?  Fulfillment and fun?  Real estate jackpots or money pits? Would you do it differently next time? What cities and regions are on your radar for the future and why?

That's it.  100 or 200 words, on any or all of those subjects.  300-500 words could be even better.  Send your stories to: whosyourcity@gmail.com, or post them on the comment section of this entry, or do both.

Together, we'll build a reservoir of community knowledge that I hope can help get a little closer to understanding: Who's Your City?   And remember, everyone: Make 'em zing!  They just may find their way into print and around the globe.  And thanks again!

(posted by Richard)

On Monday October 18th at 1:00 pm EST, the Washington Post will be hosting an online discussion with Steven Pedigo, research manager for the Greater Washington Initiative. Pedigo will answer questions (which can be emailed ahead of time or during the discussion) about greater Washington DC's creative economy.

Are similar conversations taking place in your neck of the woods? If not, maybe you should start one.

(posted by David)