Somewhere Else

April 14, 2014

I grew up in a small, rural town in Montana in the “pre-Internet” age, and because of this I developed a great sense of curiosity about other places in the world. I wanted to see the rest of the world partially because I assumed that “somewhere else” must have more culture, more opportunity and smarter people. As we grow older we begin to understand that that isn’t necessarily true. In my profession of economic development I remain curious about other places and cultures, but try very hard to separate curiosity from envy.

At an event in Seattle last week held by JPMorgan Chase and the Brookings Institution, Bruce Katz of Brookings offered that the work of a community is to study what others do, but stop short of trying to be the next version of some other place. The advice: Get busy becoming the next best version of your community by using your own cultural, human and economic assets. This was his message to the leadership of Seattle and the other communities in the room, and it certainly resonated. In essence, stop trying to be the next Silicon Valley or the next…whatever – and instead, take lessons from others and apply them to your community.

This doesn’t mean that you stop benchmarking or stop searching for things to apply to your strategy. Benefiting from the hard work of others and avoiding their mistakes can accelerate your efforts. However, too much hand wringing can paralyze your strategy and lead you to focus only on challenges, while focus also belongs on the opportunities that abound for communities of all types and locations around this country.

Our entire team welcomes your thoughts and comments about untapped opportunities and best practices that could be applied within our region.

Kenny McDonald

One Columbus Update

  • Last week, One Columbus joined the Columbus Partnership in hosting students from the Buckeye Leadership Fellows (BLF). In partnership with OSU alumni and community leaders, BLF builds unique and transformative experiences for undergraduate students so they can achieve a competitive advantage in their post-graduate pursuits and remain deeply connected to the university.
  • This week, the One Columbus team continues its mission in China. They have met with several companies independently and are joining the SelectUSA team this week. Our team will also be in Massachusetts and Connecticut this week to visit companies and location advisors.