Milwaukee debates economic development

If there is anyone who thinks the issues we debate here are much different from what is going on almost everywhere else.. Milwaukee is debating between two vastly different visions of how to promote its own knowledge-based economy with a similar focus on biotechnology. The choices being a five-university collaboration of existing academic research in the region and an effort being pushed by a venture capital fund to create a new $250 innovation center focused on the commercialization of technology. The ironic thing seems to be that the venture captial fund is suggesting that this new center could be funded by a regional sales tax (anyone remember RRI?) while the university based idea seems to use own source money to some degree.

What I don't get is why they see these choices as an either-or decision. Obtaining the venture capital, producing the research and advancing toward commercialization all need to happen. Could this story be written about Pittsburgh?


8 Responses to "Milwaukee debates economic development"

globalburgh said... 6/23/2006 2:06 PM

This same story is being written in a number of places. These regions should band together in common cause and share war stories. However, the various political landscapes in each region may prohibit such collaboration, not only interregionally, but intraregionally. Furthermore, aren't these regions in direct competition with one another? There is only so many migrants and so much venture capital to go around. Pittsburgh's political geography will seriously hinder its ability to compete with these other regions.

I think the primary impediment to attracting venture capital is an ossified political geography. Also, to the extent that these regions embrace sedentary labor demographic business models marks another limitation on the success of redevelopment. I figure most of these regional initiatives are chasing an economy that is in decline and does not suit their assets.

Mark Rauterkus said... 6/23/2006 6:23 PM

Say what?

Wikipedia tells us:
Ossification is the process of bone formation, in which connective tissues, such as cartilage are turned to bone or bone-like tissue. The ossified tissue is invaginated with blood vessels. These blood vessels bring minerals like calcium and deposit it in the ossifying tissue. It is thought that this process led to bone as a structural element in vertebrates. Minerals were deposited in cartilage, which was used for storage. Bone was thus an exaptation from the ossified cartilage.

So, a political geography, or political landscape, that makes a impediment to attracting V.C. is what?

And, what's "sedentary labor" -- ???

globalburgh said... 6/23/2006 7:35 PM

I didn't mean ossified in the medical sense of the term. I meant "rigid or inflexible." I should have just said that. I don't know why the word "ossified" popped into my head. Many of the political landscapes in the Sun Belt regions are relatively anarchic. That is, new approaches are unlikely to run into entrenched politcal machines or tread upon long-running turf wars.

Sedentary labor is the opposite of nomadic labor. One of the features of the emerging knowledge economy is the ever increasing mobility of labor. The ability of any region to retain the people it educates is decreasing.

As education improves, so does mobility.

Mark Rauterkus said... 6/24/2006 11:39 AM

Thanks for the insights.

The best way to get rid of those long-running turf wars is to NUKE everyone that is in office now. We need to throw the bumbs out.

We need to REPLACE, then re-direct, then refrorm.

I hate the idea of doing reform with the ones that are there now. And, both the Ds and Rs are the problem. So, I'm an INDEPENDENT.

So, rather than going for an out-of-body experience, let's do a wellness campaign and get fit in terms of our political landscape.

Mark Rauterkus said... 6/24/2006 11:43 AM

part 2

Of course, when you are more educated you are more fluid. You are able to move. You are able to vote with your feet. That is a given that I agree with.

But, I'm not sure that a regions ability to retain people it educates is a flaw or a feature. And, it has little to do with the notion of NOT educating our own.

Lots of nomadic labor works outdoors too -- say in the fields. That has little to do with knowledge economy. I don't know if the knowledge economy is more or less mobile than all of the economy these days. ???

globalburgh said... 6/24/2006 1:31 PM

A region educating its own is a good thing. But I think any region needs to come to terms with the results of that education, leaving the region. How can a region cash in on the educational investment if the talent generated will move , likely multiple times? I'm not suggesting withholding that investment, but discovering a way to tap into the homegrown talent now spread all over the world.

Mark Rauterkus said... 6/24/2006 11:10 PM

We need to do a better job with homecomings.

How many time shares are in Pittsburgh? Many would come home for one week a year if given an attractive opportunity / investment.

A "Metro High" for non-natives would be a nice option, as a public high school choice.

Grad student housing sucks here.

Family housing for more mature students is wanting.

Anonymous said... 6/26/2006 9:34 PM

We just need to disintegrate the Allegheny Conference...they are ossified.

Search Pittsblog

About Pittsblog

Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at] Mike also blogs at, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

All opinions expressed at Pittsblog 2.0 are those of their respective authors and of no one (and no thing) else, least of all the University of Pittsburgh.

Pittsblog 2.0 has a motto: "It's steel good in Pittsburgh." Say it aloud, with a Pittsburgh accent.

Comments are moderated.
Subscribe to Pittsblog comments


Blog Archive

Header Background

Header background images licensed from (left image) lemonad and (right image) plaskota under Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - Share Alike 2.0 Generic licenses.


Copyright 2003-2010 Michael J. Madison - WP Theme by Brian Gardner - Blogger Blog Templates,