In previous blogs, I’ve tried to make the case that economic growth is critical to every person, every business, every organization, every…. So, the obvious next question is: How? How do we drive economic growth in our region so that we continue to prosper and enjoy the regional lifestyle that we value so much?
The good news is that the answer is well known – drive the growth of technology-based businesses. When I was first working on the region’s technology growth program, CincyTechUSA, we looked at the comparative growth rates of our Cincinnati region versus other similar regions around the US. Depending on what statistics you use, the growth of technology companies account for over 70% of the difference in growth from region to region.
The facts are already pretty well known about the on-going decline of the manufacturing sector in the United States as well as the growth of the service sector of our economy. But if you drill down on the numbers, you quickly see that the higher paying jobs that are really driving economic growth are mostly in the technology sector.
There are lots of different definitions for the technology sector, but I think of it as those businesses that design, develop and manufacture technology goods or are the services that support the application of these goods. Don’t get too hung up on the definition – my wife’s definition of technology is anything that was invented after you were born. Our grandparents thought refrigerators, ovens and cars were technology. We think of computers, consumer electronics and advanced medical devices as technology. But our children who grew up with all these technologies will think of them as appliances. What will be the technologies of their lifetimes?
We know the names of the big, growing technology companies: MicroSoft, Apple, Verizon, Google, etc. These companies and their smaller siblings are what’s driving economic growth in our generation. We need to be part of this boom in our region.
But, how do we do this? All those big companies are already located somewhere else. Is the game over or can we still get our share of this growth to keep our regional economy thriving?