Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Still waiting...

The university is still engineering me some awesome blog...which we don't have access to as of yet.

In the meantime read this awesome analysis about the manufacturing sector from the big brains at 538.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Moving soon...

Watch this space for details of our move to a new Virginia Tech hosted blog site. I'm told that should be coming any day now.

In the meantime read here about the purchase of the massive shuttered Ford plant in Norfolk by a manufacturer of solar panels.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Bookshelf 1-23

Sorry for the lack of posts this week. I was jammed up finishing up one project and starting up another. Both of these will be the subject of posts in the near future.

I looked in my "to read" stack and found a few things worth sharing.

I just picked up Dan Pink's new book Drive. I'm always a bit leery of author-gurus but after his relentless promotion across several NPR programs I picked up Pink's latest. He is focused on evidence about the role internal motivation plays in the modern workforce. My interest in this topic stems from my participation in a project looking at faculty involvement in community engagement activities. Traditional professional incentives not withstanding (i.e. publish or perish) many faculty do take up engagement activities. What's driving them? Maybe Pink will help us figure it out.

I also just picked up the an article on career ladders in the recent edition of Economic Development Quarterly (subscription required for full text). The authors Marla Wilson and Laura Wolf-Powers measure economic development impacts of employment growth in hospital sector through method of "job chain" analysis. Increasing I see projects coming across my desk where the university can link up with community colleges to build stronger partnerships with industry in support of educational pathways and/or career ladders. (The big new project I alluded to at the top of this post involves something like that with the construction industry.) I hope Wilson and Wolf-Powers offer some tools that can help me quantify the potential benefits of these opportunities.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Happy Birthday Ben Franklin

The founding father whose story every economic developer should know was born 303 years ago today on January 17, 1706. He had already made his money as an entrepreneurial printer with an eye for market opportunities and an ability to deliver solutions. A brilliant inventor, he was the first open source advocate, never patenting some of his most useful innovations like lightning rods, bifocals, or vastly improved wood stoves. At the same time he was a forward thinking civic entrepreneur whose innovations like lending libraries and fire departments vastly improved the quality of life in his community that made it a great place to live and work.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Why is firm formation constant?

Interesting new Kauffman study.

Key findings:

“According to a new study released today by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, however, new-business creation in the United States is remarkably constant over time. Exploring Firm Formation: Why Is the Number of New Firms Constant? reveals that none of the factors that might bear on prospective entrepreneurs' decisions to form new companies—recessions, expansions, tax changes, population growth, scarce or abundant capital, technological advances or others—has much impact on the pace of U.S. startups.”

So can we all go home now?

“… the study showed that entrepreneurship education and venture capital, two indicators that have received heightened attention in recent years, had no appreciable impact on entrepreneurial activity in the United States."

Not quite...

"However, the authors point out, it could very well be that entrepreneurship education, venture capital and similar entrepreneur-friendly measures have helped maintain a constant level of firm formation.”

*Sigh* What was it Truman said about looking for a one-handed economists?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Clean Tech Manufacturing Grants

A nice success for the Shenandoah Valley!

AAF-McQuay, Inc. located in Verona was the only Virginia firms to secure a federal tax credit to support clean tech manufacturing projects. AAF received a $774,937 credit. The company plans to re-equip a manufacturing facility to produce Next-Generation Centrifugal Chiller Rooftop Air Conditioning systems. The chillers are significantly more energy-efficient than those currently on the market.