Start-ups

    GOP Debate: No Mention of Manufacturing

    american-flag-image-wallpaper copyA short post to make an observation.

    Say what you will about the GOP debate last night — and there is much to say — there was no attention paid to manufacturing. Search the transcript, you’ll not find the word mentioned a single time. Wow, it’s a very big point to miss. In related topics innovation was mentioned once, and infrastructure, a huge problem, was not mentioned at all.

    Why is it important and a big missing that manufacturing wasn’t mentioned?

    Manufacturing, and the middle class jobs that accompany renewed manufacturing, are absolutely essential to sustained, healthy economic growth. Our growth right now is anaemic in large part because of this missing element.

    We are not going to be a nation with a middle class if we don’t make things, ideally, high value things. 

    Many important things were brought up, if not exactly debated. Education, taxation, immigration, abortion, balancing budgets, ISIS, Hilary Clinton, regulations, entitlement reform, gay marriage, and more. They even talked about jobs, small business, and the economy — but it was mostly about how lowering taxes and removing regulations will get us to growth.

    Sorry guys, tweaking the tax code, alone, does not get us to growth, and will not get us to 4% or better growth rates. 

    Lowering taxes, reforming regulations and entitlements might help — would help — but it will not do the job.

    What Would Do the Job — Three Things

    1. What would do the job are investments in basic science and materials — which has always given us a dividend in technology and jobs. The USA used to lead the world in basic research, we no longer do. If we want to be the first to create new innovations and industries, we need to be the first to understand new materials and aspects of science. Investment in infrastructure would also be a huge help. Many American’s don’t even has access to the web. Let’s fix this by making smart investments.
    2. What would do the job is to set penalties for American companies who ship jobs overseas. Manufacturers are taking advantage of cheap labor overseas and south of our border. Instead they should be automating here, and staying here. The world is changing and some jobs are going to disappear, that’s reality. However, many companies move when they could be reinventing here. Let’s incent them to stay and penalize them if they leave. Let’s reinvent how to manufacture and we’ll recapture jobs and reshore jobs.
    3. What would do the job is to provide more help to entrepreneurs, help in the form of insurance (Obamacare needs tweaked to better support entrepreneurs) and help in the form of support services and tax incentives. The truth is the rate of start-ups has slowed in recent years. This is another missing element in the recovery. We have to turn that around. Schools need to educate more entrepreneurs, we are very poor at doing that. Big business and government have to support smaller players and enable more people to take more risk. Intrapreneurship should also be encouraged. Let’s encourage and support a massive new generation of entrepreneurs.

    The lack of attention to creating Good Middle Class jobs, not McJobs, via manufacturing, is the elephant in the room that was not talked about.

    Can we suggest to Fox News and others hosting debates over the next 12 months that we want that elephant talked about?

     

     

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    Baby Steps To Breakthrough In Regional Economic Development

    Creativity, Innovation, and Economic Development — Embracing the Challenge Better Questions Means Better Answers for Regional Economic Development It’s about Attitudes, Projects, and Baby Steps Economic Development is important and challenging work. Having just interviewed players in this field and surveyed some regional initiatives — it’s clear that innovative work is being done in regional economic development — by some. I suspect that many in the field find the economic development challenge overwhelming. A bit like the Bob character in What about Bob, it’s tough to be creative when you are afraid to take a simple step. Thank you Bill Murray for a memorable character. Let’s face it, some regions always seem to lose out on the new plant. Some

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    Rural Broadband Necessary for Rural Innovation

    Tuesday– September 23, 2014 It’s nice to see that people are recognizing that innovation isn’t always in Silicon Valley. Writing you today from the countryside in Three Oaks, Michigan, aka “Michiana” — where my poky web access is satellite based. Steve Case’s article earlier this week in the Washington Post  – Why innovation and start-ups are thriving in ‘flyover’ country –  is spot on. Case, you may recall, was co-founder of AOL. He correctly identifies the reasons why Chicago, Denver, Cincinnati, and other smaller cities are becoming vibrant centers of start-ups. He’s asking for investments of time and money to be made in order to further the trend. I agree, and… He didn’t go far enough with his article — he missed one

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    Employee Abuse is Poison to Innovation

    Abuse Poisons Innovation Efforts — and Innovation Experts Take Fairness as a Given The Five Forms of Employee Abuse (see below) One of the nice things about working for yourself is you don’t have to put up with abuse. Yes, sometimes I’m out there scrambling, sometimes clients are very demanding — but that’s a small price to pay for living or dying on the strength of my own ideas and work. I was reminded yesterday that the vast majority of people work for a company. A good friend suffered a demeaning and unfair incident at work — and it was devastating. I recalled the many times in my early career when similar things happened to me. It occurred to me

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    Minimum Wage Boost in Silicon Valley Ups the Cinderella Factor

    Let’s put politics aside for a moment and pretend the minimum wage is not a party-centric issue. Let’s look at it from a pragmatic perspective if possible. Raising the minimum wage in Silicon Valley (beyond San Jose which has already done so) is a very important and rational thing to do for the economic health of the valley, California, and the USA economy as a whole. I’m sure a lot could be written about the class warfare aspect of this, but to me, the innovation guy, that’s not the key issue. The issue is continuing the incredible innovation that happens in Silicon Valley. As of March 2014 it’s 87% more expensive to live in Silicon Valley than the USA average.

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    Let’s Tax the Boy Scouts

    Do you belong to a Credit Union? Many Americans do, about 97 million to be precise. A large number, although Credit Unions represent only 6% of financial transactions. I’m posting about credit unions because these beneficial organizations are under attack. The link to innovation is profound — credit unions are how many people establish their financial base. People with a financial leg to stand on are the kind of people who start businesses and fuel the economy. Have you ever heard the phrase “building up a stake?” You can’t start a new company, or even a family, with nothing. One must have at least seed money, or more, to get a start-up going. Credit Unions are a great way for

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    Innovation, like eggs, is cheaper in the country

    This post is about an innovative company called aXess America, but first… Do you assume that broadband web access is nearly universal? It’s not. Millions of rural Americans have no, or quite poor, web access. Our government allocated part of the 2.9 billion in the stimulus package (The American Recovery and Reinvestment act of 2009) to solve this problem. For many, probably most rural Americans — this had no impact at all. This inequality of access has the USA ranking 26th in the world. In Internet access! And we’re slipping. This does not bode well for USA innovation. Historically, many breakthrough innovations have originated in the countryside. Philo Farnsworth, the Idaho farm boy, helped invent TV. Edison was a country boy

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    The Innovation State of the Union

    President Obama made mention in his state of the union address that he wishes to expand the National Netowrk for Manufacturing Innovation concept. I wholly applaud the idea, AND, there might be a more fundamental challenge that needs addressed first. I’ve made the acquaintance of a thought leader with her finger on the pulse of where the nation sits in terms of technological readiness to innovate. Her name is Pamela Menges, and she’s President of a high-tech start up in Cincinnati. She’s also a professor at the University of Cincinnati in their Engineering department. Steve Jobs once challenged Obama to find him 30,000 engineers so he could build a plant in California. That challenge remains a big one, and again,

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    Run to the Innovation Jungle

    Guerilla Innovation Chapter Fourteen Run to the Jungle I’ve written what amounts to a short book on innovation for small business these last couple months. I’ve called it Guerilla Innovation (the starting post is here) and I’ve targeted those who want to create a start-up, or, are internal innovators at companies who have little experience with innovation (and innovation-speak). This is a basic, but I think highly useful, field-guide-like innovation book for small business. Every business starts as a small business, so, I’m not limiting the book to those who don’t have much ambition — I merely wanted to provide a more readable, more practical, approach to innovation without all the “MBA-speak”. In the spirit of providing real value in this

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    Nine Keys to Entrepreneurial Survival

    Guerilla Innovation — Chapter Thirteen Isn’t it weird that this post on small business innovation survival is Chapter Thirteen? I didn’t plan it that way, but folks who go belly up usually didn’t plan that either. One of the most telling statistics about starting a business is that the longer you can hold out the more likely it is you’ll survive and do well. The literature will tell you that many fledgling new companies die due to lack of capital. Fair enough, but the reason behind that reason is that there was not a survival strategy that worked. A start up is a bit like that journey across the desert in Lawrence of Arabia — you know it’s going to

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