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Blog Entries from May 2012

The Importance of Culture, Partnerships, and Perspective in Regional Economic Development


Recently, as part of our ongoing series of public conference calls with members of the National Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE), we spoke with Dr. Christina Gabriel, president of the University Energy Partnership, a nonprofit organization that was founded jointly in 2010 by five major research universities in the Pittsburgh area, and Dr. Mary Sue Coleman, president of the University of Michigan. Dr. Gabriel and Dr. Coleman, who both play leading roles in regional-based economic development in promoting the commercialization of research, stressed similar themes, including the importance of culture, partnerships, and perspective in regional economic development.

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$26 Million Competition to Help Accelerate Growth of Advanced Manufacturing and Clusters


$26 Million Competition to Help Accelerate Growth of Advanced Manufacturing and Clusters Manufacturing, especially advanced manufacturing based on new technologies, is a sector of vital importance to America’s economic viability—both to businesses and the people they employ. A recent study conducted by the Department of Commerce bears this out: Manufacturing is responsible for 70 percent of our private-sector research and development (R&D), 90 percent of our patents, and 60 percent of our exports. And the benefits accrue to manufacturing workers, since they earn pay and benefits that are about 17 percent higher than average.

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Exports, Foreign Direct Investment, and Greener Fuel to Jumpstart Georgia’s Economy


Image of Georgia biomass facility As they search for opportunities to grow their economies and create jobs, no region in the United States can really choose to ignore the global marketplace—in fact, it just makes common sense. The latest export numbers bear this out: Since 2009, record-breaking levels of U.S. exports have supported an additional 1.2 million American jobs. And in March, the latest figures show that U.S. exports increased 2.9 percent, the largest increase since July 2011.

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Advanced Manufacturing Gets a Boost in Conover, North Carolina


An architect’s rendering of Conover Station in Hickory, North Carolina. The new home of the Manufacturing Solutions Center is being built with help from the Economic Development Administration. (photo courtesy Conover Station) Speaking last week at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Secretary of Commerce John Bryson focused on the importance of manufacturing to boosting U.S. economic growth, job creation and exports. To see evidence of that, we need only look to the city of Conover, North Carolina, where Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) has been supporting elected officials and local private and public sector leaders—including a community college and a nonprofit manufacturing center—in their efforts to make this area a regional hub for advanced manufacturing expertise and to expand the region’s reach into international markets.

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Robin Chase, Founder of Zipcar and Buzzcar, Discusses Opportunities to Leverage Excess Capacity for Innovation


Robin Chase, Founder of Zipcar and Buzzcar In the second of the series of conference calls with national leaders in innovation and entrepreneurship, we had small business owners, entrepreneurs, innovators and stakeholders join me for an in-depth conference call with Ms. Robin Chase, founder and former CEO of Zipcar, founder and CEO of Buzzcar, and a member of theNational Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE).

Ms. Chase started the conversation by giving us some background about how she started Zipcar in June 2000 with $75,000 that she had raised. She was able to raise more money from the Boston venture capital community by attending every start-up meeting she could, using the fact that she obtained degrees from a “local” college and university to pitch her idea. Her efforts paid off: for example, an MIT angel venture group funded a significant portion of the early investment in Zipcar.

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Job Creation Through Export Development: EDA Commemorates World Trade Month


Logo: World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia In Commerce Secretary Bryson’s statement to mark World Trade Month, he discussed steps the Obama administration is taking to give “American workers and businesses a fair shot in the global economy by supporting trade agreements that will open up markets to U.S. companies, working to aggressively investigate unfair trade practices taking place anywhere in the world, and continuing to work to ensure that our workers and businesses are competing on a level playing field.” President Obama will issue a proclamation to commemorate World Trade Week, which falls in the third week of May, to expand on this commitment to promote U.S. exports.

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ASU’s Dr. Michael M. Crow on Innovation and Entrepreneurship


This week, close to 100 entrepreneurs, innovators, small business owners, and stakeholders joined me for an in-depth conference call facilitated by the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship with Dr. Michael M. Crow, president of Arizona State University (ASU) and a member of the President’s National Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE). This was the first in a series of forums to highlight the work of NACIE, spotlight some of our nation’s most dynamic leaders, and share best practices and insight with potential applicants for the upcoming third round of the multiagency i6 Challenge.

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Bringing Research to Market to Advance American Manufacturing


An LED streetlight installation by EcoFit Lighting of Lenexa, Kansas, working with the Advanced Manufacturing Institute, an EDA University Center. (Photo: EcoFit Lighting) For U.S. manufacturers today, questions abound that might have been simpler to answer in times gone by, such as: What is the best way to commercialize a new technology? How can a new process be incorporated into a new production system? What locations will best service a national or international clientele? Where can a cadre of technically-trained workers be found?

For answers to such questions, manufacturers in Kansas are fortunate to be able to turn to the Advanced Manufacturing Institute (AMI) at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. Over the past decade, this organization—which helps businesses of all sizes, from entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 companies—has undertaken projects in 66 of Kansas’ 105 counties, helping many companies to grow, prosper and succeed.
AMI’s mission is simple: to advance technologies, people, and companies through collaborative engineering and business partnerships. To accomplish this, AMI has a consulting staff of 15 technical and business professionals and 30 student interns who help manufacturers in Kansas develop and refine their products and bring them to market. 

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