Small Pieces – Loosely Joined

April 30, 2012

I recently attended a presentation at MIT where a technologist suggested a book called Small Pieces Loosely Joined by David Weinberger. At once, I knew I had to get this book. The title alone is worthy of my attention as a regional economic development practitioner. In fact, the phrase “small pieces loosely joined” sums up my feelings about how regionalism works very well.

Just like the web, regional collaboration changes our perception about what is possible, imperfect, and ever evolving. I’ve always believed regionalism requires that the small pieces (locally this means counties, cities, townships, villages) work hard to develop and maintain their history and character to reach their full potential. Occasionally, and increasingly more often as budgets tighten, the small pieces can only achieve their full potential by banding together in whole or in part with other areas to achieve this potential (regionalism).

In fact, it is a pretty apt description of the United States. Each state brings unique attributes to the table, each ruggedly individualistic, but occasionally and for certain functions these states band together in small groups (Midwest, Southeast, New England) or as a whole (national defense). It is a basic premise of America. Go it alone, take care of yourself, compete – and come together when/if necessary.

The Columbus Region is working very hard to do just this, and Ohio in a larger sense is doing the same thing through the JobsOhio Network – a collection of 6 regions throughout the state that have banded together to market/promote and conduct economic development for the benefit of the State of Ohio. Together we can do more than has ever been done before in Ohio, but our coalition and our economic development system will always be imperfect and ever-evolving. Small pieces – loosely joined.

One Columbus Update
One Columbus received an honorable mention as one of the top economic development groups in the country last week through Site Selection magazine. Congratulations to the great team, but, more importantly to our regional partners (200+ private sector companies and 26 public entities that make up our investors). You made this advancement possible and we appreciate it.

Last week our team visited the Hannover Trade Fair in Germany and the Industrial Asset Management Council’s spring event in Texas. More prospects were developed at both events and our team keeps pushing forward this week with another trip to Texas to meet with energy companies at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston. Wish us luck!

This Wednesday the Brookings Institution, in a joint project with JPMorgan Chase, will host the Ohio Global Cities forum at The Ohio State University. The forum will explore how Ohio’s metropolitan areas can enhance their ability to compete globally by focusing on the interplay between advanced research, advanced industries, skilled workers, foreign direct investment and sophisticated export promotion and finance. You can register and learn more about this event.

-Kenny McDonald