I took the title from a Nathan Bomey article on annarbor.com. Bomey was writing about a conference about growing the clean energy industry in Michigan. Bomey writes:
Ken Nisbet, executive director of U-M’s Technology Transfer Office, said investment capital is important, but companies gravitate toward regions that are populated with talented people. “I actually think that all economic development is talent-driven or should be talent-driven,” Nisbet said.
Paul Krutko, the new CEO of economic development Ann Arbor SPARK, said talented young professionals are attracted to regions with good “quality of life,” strong “community development” and a culture of “embracing diversity.” Krutko, who started in his new role Monday, cited research showing that 65 percent of “graduates in the innovative, technical space we’re talking about now … choose where to live first as opposed to where to work first.”
Wow! This, of course, is the basic lesson we have learned in our research of what defines the most prosperous communities around the country. Talent – concentrations of human capital – trumps everything else. It is not just the clean energy industry, it’s true for all knowledge-based enterprises.
Talent is the asset that matters most to their success and is increasingly in short supply. And as knowledge-based enterprises go, so goes your state and local economy. Because they are the growing part of the economy and where most of the good paying jobs are. Nisbet is exactly right when he says “I actually think that all economic development is talent-driven or should be talent-driven.”
The problem is that economic development policy and practice throughout Michigan is not talent-driven. If anything, we are going in the opposite direction. Cutting spending at both the state and local levels in both preparing talent and creating quality of place that retains and attracts talent. Until that changes we are going to continue to lag the nation. End of story!