Narrowing the Gap

November 10, 2014

The 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall is a reminder of the triumph of freedom, and the virtues of capitalism over communism and authoritarian rule. The climb out of that dark period has been long and tenuous. For those in the U.S., the Wall coming down was the end of a long period of tension and fear. For those closest to the fight – the people significantly impacted by the Wall and all it stood for – it was the beginning of a long process.

This article from Deutsche Welle details the economic struggle to integrate the German economy. While Berlin is a burgeoning technology hub and a city coming of age, much of the rest of the former East Germany lags its western counterpart in wages and economic productivity. Forty years of progress in the west versus 40 years of repression in the east have made it quite difficult to reconcile. This is a very poignant case study in the power of history and economic geography.

The cycle of poverty in many neighborhoods and rural locations in the United States reflect the same fact – that despite efforts to level the playing field, it is very difficult to narrow the gap between communities. It is indeed complex. Despite intentional efforts to intervene and change the cycle, only modest gains are made most of the time. It is known that education – while not a magic elixir – is a potent weapon in this battle. The creation of wealth in poorer communities, if reinvested in those communities, is also a path to success. Enterprises create such wealth by bringing new money in and providing jobs for those who live there, creating an economic base. Hopefully, a virtuous cycle of growth and redevelopment ensues.

It is important to celebrate when barriers to growth and development are demolished. But, it is just as important to help narrow the gap that’s left behind.

Kenny McDonald

One Columbus Update

  • Last week, the One Columbus team returned from a successful business development trip to Japan and China. Our team was accompanied by Canal Winchester development director Lucas Haire, who recently touted the value of such trips.
  • This week, the One Columbus team and local allies are in Germany to meet with companies considering location in the United States.
  • Economic Development 411 will be held on Friday, December 5. ED411 is a half-day training session for government officials, business leaders and economic development professionals that will feature networking opportunities and breakout sessions on workforce challenges, local economic development strategies, global trade and investment, incentives and entrepreneurship. Visit to register.
  • The final One Columbus Investor Update of the year will be held on Friday, December 5 in conjunction with ED411. Click here to learn more.