Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Q&A with Michael Porter

The Harvard professor and popular author explains the "location paradox" and talks about the competitive challenges facing the U.S. Ever since his 1990 book The Competitive Advantage of Nations, Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter has been regarded as a leading authority on the economic development of nations, regions, and cities. Both as an academic and consultant, Porter is best known for his work on the importance of developing a specialty in industrial clusters—high concentrations of companies in a sector such as semiconductors, cars, or textiles. In an interview with Senior Writer Pete Engardio, Porter explains why he believes globalization has actually made industry clusters and local advantages even more important, rather than weakened them.

More here

New North Takes Regional Approach

New North pushes to become driving force

By Mike Hoeft
DE PERE — From its new location in De Pere, the New North economic development initiative is poised to foster better collaboration in marketing a regional brand, officials say.

New North, which promotes an 18-county region in Northeast Wisconsin, moved recently to 1716 Lawrence Drive, space provided by WPS Energy Services. The donation, which also included loan of a research assistant, allowed the fledgling group to move from the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce & Industry offices in Appleton.

That there was no cost was a big factor in the move, said Paul Jadin, president of the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce and a New North executive board member. It shows the private sector is getting behind it, he said.

"We're happy WPS Energy Services offered a loaned executive and space for a year," Jadin said. "Now we're in a position where New North can assert itself as a driving force for the region."

New North is a "terrific way of looking at the entire Northeast Wisconsin area to attract businesses," said said WPS Energy Services marketing manager Mike Welch, whose company serves commercial and industrial clients in 22 states. New North aims to attract better jobs, which means a better tax base to support public services.

"It's beneficial for all residents, so we're the beneficiaries as well," Welch said.

New North grew from its predecessor, the Northeast Wisconsin Regional Economic Development Partnership.

Jerry Murphy, who started in January as executive director of New North Inc., said De Pere provides a central location from which to promote the area. The office has good highway access to U.S. 41, Interstate 43 and Wisconsin 29.

In his first six months he's made a lot of "windshield surveys" in visits to area communities.

"I've got an eyeful and earful on important selling points. That will help define a regional approach to economic development," he said.

The idea is that communities needn't compete with each other. While they'll still champion their own identities, communities have a common fabric that holds them together. People who live in Sheboygan, for example, may work in Green Bay and recreate in Manitowoc.

New North does not have to re-invent the economic development delivery system, Murphy said.

"One of our principle mandates is collaboration," he said. "That means maximizing resources and tools available to minimize redundancy."

Murphy's challenges will be to unite the organization and raise capital.

For the fiscal year ending June 30, New North reached its fund-raising objective of $330,000. Next year the goal grows by more than a third. At that point, the public grant cycle will be exhausted.

"So the bar is high, but it demonstrates the private sector is engaged," Murphy said.

Murphy, 51, has spent his career in the Great Lakes area. He grew up in Milwaukee and has a master's in business administration from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

He later worked in Ironwood, Mich., as an economic development resource specialist and executive director.

Prior to joining New North, Murphy worked as executive vice president of the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise since 2002. The Buffalo Niagara Enterprise is an eight-county regional economic development organization charged with marketing and managing business development projects in Western New York.