Today’s economic development business news frequently includes stories about local digital and technology start-up incubators. What’s happening here that attracts so much attention? Pure and simple, it’s driven by the ongoing quest for communities to support sustainable twenty-first century job creation.
During the industrial revolution the residents of many major cities benefited from full employment, the large employers prospered and the collective local economy thrived. Most people made a good living and the populous was satisfied. But over time, things began to change – slowly at first, the reports of unrest seemed like isolated incidents. Then it happens, the big revelation – the day of reckoning arrives.
Where did this happen? Pick any continent on the planet, now choose a developed region and you can find a city where this story will continue to play out – over and over again. As an example, Howard Baldwin shared some insights about the rise and fall of the Motor City in one of his illuminating editorials.
Perhaps when they write the global history of this turbulent decade, exposing the erroneous notion of being “Too Big to Fail” will stand out as its epic moment of enlightenment for all policymakers that attend a future World Economic Forum (WEF) event.
Creating the Environment for Good Job Growth
The story in emerging markets can be somewhat different than parts of the developed world. Maybe the legacy industrial era had little impact on their local economy; therefore an economic re-boot isn’t required. Regardless, both developed countries and emerging nations have one thing in common – a desire to create a blended economic development plan.
In the past, regional and local business development efforts were focused on attracting large-employer inbound investment. Today, you’ll find that savvy economic development practitioners place equal emphasis on supporting the needs of individual entrepreneurs – particularly those that have conceived ideas for disruptive business models within the digital realm.
The focus on new digital technology-centric entrepreneurs is often based upon an acknowledgement that the prime objective is to spawn “good” quality jobs – with high-growth start-up employers that produce the need for skilled and well-paid employees. As Andy Green frequently reminds us, big companies are often a key part of the process.
Exploring High-Growth Opportunities in Latin America
There are several compelling reasons to anticipate that the Latin American region is at a pivotal point in its economic development trajectory. Consider these notable facts from WEF research: About 80 percent of Latin Americans live in cities, making it the most urbanized region in the world. In five decades, the number of cities has increased six-fold. Latin American countries invest 1-2% of its gross domestic product (GDP) in infrastructure – but investment levels should be in the 5-7% range.
Within the region, Brazil is a key focal point. In fact, as Jason Kohn mentioned in a recent story, one area where Brazil has advanced rapidly is in telecommunications infrastructure investment. Clearly, this is a significant advantage.
As I’ve said before, we know that communities of entrepreneurs will thrive in digital business ecosystems that are formed around peer-group clusters – of course, enabled by readily-available broadband internet access, including going online via the mobile internet on smartphones.
Fostering Local Innovations in Rio de Janeiro
Yesterday, Cisco announced the opening of a “Center of Innovation” in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Center will integrate Cisco’s portfolio with technology from local players to create solutions that meet the needs of the Brazilian market.
The Center will be a key resource for Cisco as it creates long-lasting relationships with the Brazilian government and local customers, as it works with them to identify their needs and provide solutions that support their success.
“Cisco’s decision to open a Center of Innovation in Rio is very important, because it happens at a time when Rio is becoming a global city and the main technological center of the country. We have the highest concentration of professionals and students of Information Technology in Brazil. Also here are the major research and development centers, incubators and public and private technology centers in the country. These are factors that will help Cisco to build a very promising future in the marvelous city of Rio,” said Eduardo Paes, Mayor of the City of Rio de Janeiro.
Highlighting the company’s ongoing commitment to support ICT advancement in the region, Jordi Botifoll, president Cisco Latin America, said “We see significant opportunities for Latin America and Brazil to grow and drive innovative business practices. This Center of Innovation in Rio will help our customers and partners to better innovate in the use of technology to reduce the competitive, economic and social gaps of the region clearly identified by the WEF studies and avoid negative spikes, and create a more balanced and sustainable growth path for the region.”
I look forward to following the progress in this region, and the ongoing technical business community activities at the Center of Innovation. Where possible, I’ll share details on the technology solutions that are being developed and any associated potential job creation outcomes.