When our “leaders” and “economists” don’t understand what drives jobs

Although I hate taking a whole story and quoting it- I’ve included today’s DDN story below. This is because you have to be able to access it later for this to make sense- and the DDN takes stories away after a set time.

Fundamentally- the idea of local government creating jobs (other than in government) is flawed- it diverts energy and resources away from government actually governing (providing basic shared services and stable infrastructure as well as social integrity- ie. a lawful and safe environment). It’s what happens when the military tries to be a police force, they can do it, but it’s not what they are best at.

WSU economist Robert Premus talks about developing “the next generation of technological entrepreneurs,”… people who “know how to make business opportunities out of technology.”

Hmmmm, Austin Texas does that pretty well, with a lot of tech start-ups. And guess, what, those people Premus wants, want to live in Austin- a “creative community” and one that fosters an image of a hip, youth oriented music mecca- once a year with the SXSW music festival. California has always had the lures of sun, fun and at one time- inexpensive super State run schools. None of the population growth and high energy economic environment was bought by government- it was an image of a place to be successful.

It’s sad to hear our counties chief ED director, Joe Tuss quoted “There’s a lot of work being done to generate the next generation of businesses. But it’s a long haul.”

Instead of saying: “Dayton has a lot of underdeveloped value that is ripe for smart companies to reap value from- from low cost of living, to abundant water, to a high concentration of engineers- plus a great cultural scene that rivals or beats other growing communities- it’s my job to change our message and our image to one of success, instead of allowing the Dayton Daily News to continue telling our community our weaknesses.”

Maybe you get the point- maybe you don’t- but our self-esteem as a community makes us one of the hag sisters- instead of a Cinderella- about to score the prince.

Here is a short list of strengths:

  • Sinclair Community College ($36 per credit hour)
  • Abundant water supply
  • Outstanding recreational opportunities (bike trails, 5 Rivers Metroparks- and soon possibly a white water park)
  • No traffic jams (even with I-75 and US 35 construction)
  • Central location for distribution and close proximity to DHL hub in Wilmington
  • No seismic flaws like all of California, or Hurricane risks like the Gulf Coast and Florida
  • Inexpensive real estate
  • 4 seasons (some people don’t like living in the desert or year round 100% humidity)
  • Above average arts and cultural opportunities (DCDC, Rhythm in Shoes, Dayton Ballet, Muse Machine, CityFolk Festival, multiple venues- from the Victoria and the Fraze to the Schuster, The Dayton Art Institute, and even places like Canal Street Tavern)
  • Friendly people (try saying hello to people on the street in LA or NYC)

Read the article below- and see if you think Government can really solve the problems they talk about- or if you think that government would do better to “stick to the knitting” (as Tom Peters suggested in “In search of excellence”) and worked on providing the private sector with a solid playing field to do its thing- and then leave your suggestions.

I don’t claim to have all the answers- but I do believe a little solid marketing smoke and mirrors could do more than throwing tax dollars at businesses to try to get them to move here- because once you start doing that- you are only competing on price- not on the strength of your product.
Local job efforts lack focus, substance, economist says
Region needs to take advantage of its many engineers, says Wright State professor.

By Tom Beyerlein and Margo Rutledge Kissell

Staff Writers

Reynolds and Reynolds Co.’s announcement Friday that it will cut 450 jobs, most of them in the Dayton area, in the next three years underscores the urgency of developing a new wave of local employers, experts said.

That’s easier said than done, they acknowledged, as the area continues to be affected by globalization trends and dragged down by its links to the General Motors supply chain.

“We have an industry mix that’s working against us,” said Wright State University economics professor Robert Premus. While old-school manufacturing employers are in layoff mode, he noted, “we’re not growing major new companies in town.”Like many Rust Belt towns, Dayton has been trying to position itself as a high-tech mecca since the 1980s. But Premus, who has studied the economy for decades, said the efforts have lacked substance and focus.

“We didn’t really get serious about it,” he said. “We talked about it, but we didn’t know what to do.”

The region has more engineers than many high-tech regions “it’s sort of a paradox, Premus said, but they’re mostly tied to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the auto industry. “These are good jobs, but it’s not a source of major new industries.”

What the region needs is a much stronger effort to develop “the next generation of technological entrepreneurs,” Premus said, people who “know how to make business opportunities out of technology.”

He said he’s been trying to foster collaboration between Wright State’s business and engineering schools, but there hasn’t been much community support. “It’s been a lightweight effort when what we need is a heavy push.”

Assistant Montgomery County Administrator Joe Tuss said the area is battling national job “trends that we can only impact very minimally” if at all. We’re truly looking at a world economy, and there’s no doubt it’s having significant, long-term negative consequences on this community.”

There are hopeful signs, Tuss said: increasing aerospace medicine research at Wright-Pat, the new RFID Solutions Center near Springboro, a composites center in Dayton.

“Is there a way out of this? I think strategically this community is trying to leverage from its strengths,” Tuss said. “There’s a lot of work being done to generate the next generation of businesses. But it’s a long haul.”

Meanwhile, local United Way chief Marc Levy worries about the human impact of the Reynolds and Reynolds layoffs and other recent cuts.

“It’s another announcement that will continue to reinforce the growing concern that people have about the economy in the local region,” he said of Friday’s announcement.

What’s more, the Reynolds cuts are “in the technology area, which is where much of the growth has been seen and where the optimism is for the future jobs,” Levy said. It’s critical for the community to maintain a strong network of human services “for family and children at a time when resources are seriously being stretched.”

Levy said the waves of layoffs are having a ripple effect in the community.

“It’s getting to the point where everybody is directly or indirectly feeling the impact from this,” he said. “It may be a next-door neighbor, someone you went to school with, who lives down the road, who you see playing golf or out to dinner.”

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