Friday, November 18, 2011

From the Finger Lakes to the World : "Think Globally, Act Locally"

Kudos to the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council for finalizing its list of 10 projects for submission to Gov. Cuomo as contenders for a share of approximately $1 billion in state economic development funds. Being first off the bat compared to other regions indicates a strong focus and commitment on part of the team tasked with putting this together.

The list though exemplary still appears to be slightly conservative and run of the mill. The projects listed are ones which would normally appear in any wish-list of projects for the area. I was under the assumption that by framing this sanction of funds in the form of a competition, Gov. Cuomo is looking for revolutionary out-of-the-box ideas to kick start the economy.

One of the biggest global macro-economic trends is the current and projected growth of BRICS economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) compared with the slow or stagnant growths in rest of the World. What we need at all levels of our own economy (national, state and local) is to figure out ways to tap in the growth and revenue streams of these booming economies. At a local level it may translate into helping local small and mid-sized companies gain footholds in these countries or expand their presence there. The big companies have already got a presence in these markets. The smaller companies may need a little boost. Germany has already proven such an approach works, as reflected by its growing economy (in contrast to the moribund economies of rest of Europe) fueled by exports by its mid-sized companies to these emerging markets.

So I would love to have seen projects which focus on leveraging the strengths of our local small and mid-sized businesses (which have been the linchpin of the local economy even as the big players shrunk) and couple them with the burgeoning demand of goods and services abroad. Perhaps a project which funds an initiative to help small and mid-sized Finger Lakes region businesses become bigger players on the world arena . This could be in terms of facilitating more active collaborations with overseas chambers of commerce, hosting trade delegations, participation in trade shows abroad, crafting appropriate promotional material etc. We have to look beyond Europe where the traditional trade linkages of this region have been.

Growth in the future is likely to be determined by how outward focused we are rather than inward looking. We have to "Think Globally, Act Locally" to profit from global trends.

Update: The article got published in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle:

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