Which Cities are Winning the Brain Game

Which Cities are Winning the Brain Game?

July 31, 2014
"The places we call home are either experiencing brain gain or brain drain – and the difference defines the path of prosperity and the quality of life in a community,” say authors of new book. 

Aligning available jobs with the correct skills is a challenge that cities across the globe will have to solve.

“Producing and attracting talent with the right mix of skills for today, and doing what it takes to create local employment opportunities is not just necessary, it’s the whole game,” said Robert Bell, author of Brain Gain. “Technology-based disruption has raised the difficulty to a whole new level. The places we call home are either experiencing brain gain or brain drain – and the difference defines the path of prosperity and the quality of life in a community.”

In his book Bell, along with co-authors John Jung and Louis Zacharilla, provide examples of cities that are doing the right things and getting the right results.

For example, Chattanooga declared itself a Big City in 2012 due to the its fiber-to-the premise network built by the municipal electric utility. A project, dubbed Gig University, was created to attract entrepreneurs and students to create businesses that could make use of the network’s capacity. Working with the area Chamber of Commerce this city was successful in attracting a Volkswagen assembly plant, an IBM simulation center as well as an Amazon.com distribution center.   

Some regions are able to transform themselves such as the Finger Lake region located in upstate New York. Working with educational institutions and local municipalities, the area established one of the first “technology farms.” Located in Geneva, N.Y. the Cornell Agriculture and Food Technology Park is a joint venture between Cornell University, the city of Geneva and the state of New York. It is home to 10 emerging businesses operating in two labs and four production facilities.
The communities above are called “Intelligent Communities.” The group, Intelligent Community Forum, defines these communties as those which have – whether through crisis or foresight – come to understand the enormous challenges of the Broadband Economy, and have taken conscious steps to create an economy capable of prospering in it.  They are not necessarily big cities or famous technology hubs.  They are located in developing nations as well as industrialized ones, suburbs as well as cities, the hinterland as well as the coast. 

Communities discussed in the book include: Birmingham, UK;; Columbus, Ohio, Eindhoven, Netherlands; Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada; New York City; Oulu, Finland; Pirai, Brazil; Riverside, Calif. Stratford, Ontario, Canada; Taipei, Taiwan; Tallinn, Estonia; Taoyuan County, Taiwan; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; and Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

Each year the group announces the Top7 Intelligent Communities of the Year.

In 2014 the communities are:

About the Author

Adrienne Selko | Senior Editor

Focus: Workforce, Talent 

Follow Me on Twitter: @ASelkoIW

Bio: Adrienne Selko has written about many topics over the 17 years she has been with the publication and currently focuses on workforce development strategies. Previously Adrienne was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck? which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics and EHS Today

Editorial mission statement: Manufacturing is the enviable position of creating products, processes and policies that solve the world’s problems. When the industry stepped up to manufacture what was necessary to combat the pandemic, it revealed its true nature. My goal is to showcase the sector’s ability to address a broad range of workforce issues including technology, training, diversity & inclusion, with a goal of enticing future generations to join this amazing sector.

Why I find manufacturing interesting: On my first day working for a company that made medical equipment such as MRIs, I toured the plant floor. On every wall was a photo of a person, mostly children. I asked my supervisor why this was the case and he said that the work we do at this company has saved these people’s lives. “We never forget how important our work is and everyone’s contribution to that.” From that moment on I was hooked on manufacturing.

I have talked with many people in this field who have transformed their own career development to assist others. For example, companies are hiring those with disabilities, those previously incarcerated and other talent pools that have been underutilized. I have talked with leaders who have brought out the best in their workforce, as well as employees doing their best work while doing good for the world. 

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