Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Steel Valley Innovation Cluster

When Youngstown grows up, what kind of innovation hub will it be? Ohio has a bunch of cities (too many?) competing for scarce resources. Ideally, each region focuses on a specific economic strength. Dayton has staked its claim:

“Ever since the Wright Brothers cemented Dayton’s place in aerospace history by inventing the airplane here, we have been creating an economic base built around invention, creativity and originality,” added the mayor of Dayton, Rhine McLin. “Today’s Hub designation further solidifies the strong relationship we have forged between such institutions as the University of Dayton Research Institute, Tech Town, and Wright Patterson Air Force Base. These relationships have helped create a powerful knowledge center that attracts talented professionals and technical expertise worldwide.”

Cleveland should have the edge on biotech. Toledo with its budding solar panel industry looks like a lock for green technology. I'm not sure what Cincinnati would chase. How the Mahoning Valley fits within Ohio's Hub initiative is anyone's guess.

I don't think Youngstown needs Hub love. A place at the public trough is always nice, but the aims of the program are redundant:

To be designated an Ohio Hub, a region must identify core strengths and develop a strategic plan for urban revitalization. A Hub designation is a commitment from both the state and region to work collaboratively and target development efforts toward building upon those identified strengths, the governor noted.

Youngstown 2010 is a strategic plan for urban revitalization and the Youngstown Business Incubator, among other entities, is developing an innovation cluster that fits nicely in that framework. Dayton isn't there yet. You might even notice some Youngstown-envy in Columbus. In some regards, the Ohio Hub program is an attempt to replicate Mahoning Valley success throughout the state.

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