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Tenuous future or terrific opportunity?

“The data tell us where we’ve been and how we got here; in the hands of innovators and visionaries the data can also tell us where we need to be going.”
-Richard Hancock, Joint Venture Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley has become a phrase that makes us think of innovation, risk taking entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, and capitalism at its extreme. It is also a region much like our own, one in which business, government, and academia must come together in order to grow and prosper.

Each year I enjoy reading the Silicon Valley Index report published by Joint Venture Silicon Valley and the Silicon Valley Institute of Regional Studies. It is much like the reports that are published in other metro areas, but has a unique significance because of Silicon Valley’s importance nationally and globally.

The index is always interesting to read because it is an indicator of what technologies and companies are doing to drive not only their regional economy, but our own. This year it seemed to be different. It seemed to echo the issues facing our own region and many others. Growth has been exceptional for a number of years, jobs are plentiful, wages are up, but affordability and livability are challenged. Because Silicon Valley is an extremely expensive place already, their issues are a bit worse than most, but everything is relative.

The issues of housing, transportation, economic mobility, and sustainability are being debated all across the country. It is good to see this important region considering regional actions to address these critical issues. So many of our metro areas have already discovered that this is a powerful anecdote to these pressing problems. We can also take inspiration from their aim to use the capital and technology know-how to address these issues with their typical audacity.

The final observation is that the leaders of Silicon Valley could also look to the innovators across the country, already focused on these issues, for guidance and inspiration – many that are far from their coastline.

-Kenny McDonald