Thursday, September 01, 2005

NEO’s Comparative Advantage?

What is it that NEO does better than most? We’re not just talking among regions in Ohio or the U.S., we mean globally. Cool’s festival of the arts and technology is begging this question. Heck, we’ve pondered it before too.

First, we must agree on what comparative advantage means. An old joke, as often retold by B-W’s Peter_Rea, can help illustrate: In European heaven the Swiss are the diplomats, Germans are engineers, French are cooks, Italians are lovers and English are the police. Conversely, European hell is where the Swiss are the lovers, French are the diplomats, Germans are the police, Italians are engineers and the English are the cooks.

Peter will say that exceptions to these characterizations exist, yet there’s more than a grain of truth to the comparative advantages of Swiss chocolate, French wine, German beer, Italian pasta, and English deserts.

Knowing that virtually every business in every industry now competes in global markets, in some respect, what’s NEO’s comparative advantage? Akron once had rubber, Pittsburgh had steel and Detroit had automotive. No more. As the Ingenuity festival reminds us, NEO needs to embrace a more sustainable industry like the arts and marry it with technology to give life to innovation, to give life to a comparative advantage

Once our comparative advantage is identified and commitments made, our region’s economic development resources must be focused in the same way. We’re encouraged by the Ingenuity festival; we hope it serves as a springboard to future dialogue, which we also hope gives our region’s appointed leaders the backbone needed to commit resources with focus.


Anonymous Patrick Larson said...

Just stumbled into the blog here and I have been enjoying the very thoughtful commentary.

Having relocated to AKron from Boston via Chicago & Minneapolis the one thing I see as a comparative advantage for Cleveland and NEO in general is the general affordability of living here.

The one thing I see conversely is that there is an overwhelming sense of parochialism amongst these communities as well.

To make the area flourish I think that cities need to work together more to elevate the area of NEO as a whole.

4:29 PM  
Blogger Joe Starin said...

Love the blog. Thanks for carrying the torch for northeast Ohio and making us all think a little harder.

Here's another take on the "What is our competitive advantage?" question:

What if we didn't pre-ordain a new favorite industry for NEO -- not just yet. We would all pour our energy into our NEO-based businesses, make them as successful as possible, then watch as industry strengths emerge based on the most-successful of those businesses.

It's not lazy thinking. It's not the inability to set goals. It's just that I don't want to ask the 10-year-old child what he or she wants to be when he or she grows us. I want that child to find his or her passion and develop it. And isn't NEO a child of sorts -- trying to rebirth itself?

This is a rare opportunity for NEO entrepreneurs. With the right idea and the right drive, the right individuals can: 1) grow a business, 2) maybe create a new industry along the way, and 3) even redefine an entire region.

That's huge. Best of all, it's available to even the smallest of businesses.

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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9:54 AM  

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