An Innovation Agenda for Economic Development

September 4, 2013

Few disagree about the value of innovation in driving our economy and our society forward, but “innovation” can be difficult to foster and even harder to explain. Like most things, innovation is usually the outcome of a lot of hard work. Some innovations are intentional and incremental; others are brought about quite suddenly through advances in science or technology.

So how do you foster more innovation in your community, region or state? There are many ways to bring innovation to economic development. Here are three that we try to incorporate into the One Columbus Regional Growth Strategy.

First, we believe that manufacturing matters. As Ralph Gomory wrote in this article, “Innovation in manufacturing matters; innovation in manufacturing is what turns ideas into things that change the world.” In our region, we design and make great products like Krazy Glue, power generators, beer, automobiles and a host of other products that all of us depend on each day. The minds and hands that create these products deserve our attention and support. Please mark October as Ohio Manufacturing Month and Friday, October 4 as National Manufacturing Day – a day to expose young people to the great careers in the field of manufacturing.

Second, the Columbus Region believes that increasing the amount of exports from our region – both manufactured goods and value-added services – will lead to more jobs within our region and more innovation within companies that export to several countries. As one scholarly paper notes – “firm innovation effort, productivity, and export propensity are found to be positively correlated with one another. Two alternative explanations have been offered for this – innovation increases productivity and more productive firms self-select into exporting or, alternatively, exporting increases learning and innovation, which in turn affects productivity.” The Brookings Metropolitan Export Initiative provides excellent research on this subject.

Finally, we believe the simple act of collaboration leads to innovation. Bringing people, company leaders and industry officials to the table can lead to sharing and learning that accelerates job creation and investment. Perhaps the very best use of our community platforms – be it government, academia, nonprofits or industry associations – is to bring together smart people who are open to new ideas. Highly collaborative environments help to engage people and ignite new thinking about big, persistent problems.

-Kenny McDonald

One Columbus Update

The first few weeks of September are full of events that will allow the One Columbus team to meet and host companies from around the world.

  • A delegation from the Columbus Region will travel to Japan in just a few days to visit dozens of companies and attend the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association’s conference in Tokyo.
  • Columbus Crew Stadium will play host to the U.S. Soccer Men’s National Team vs. Mexico, bringing visitors from all over the country and Mexico.
  • September 12-13, our team will visit California to meet companies and business decision makers.