Posts Tagged economic development

Are Rural Economies Terminal?

In December, the New York Times published an article about rural America that painted a bleak picture of declining populations, declining employment, increasing opioid addiction and death. The article suggested that the decline is inevitable and perhaps irreversible. “This is the inescapable reality of agglomeration, one of the most powerful forces shaping the American economy […]

Seize the Day

Summer is fleeting in Maine. One minute, it’s the first warm beach day; the next, it’s what my grandmother called “the Fall-ish change.” We learned quickly to get in as much outdoors time as possible in June, July and August, take every opportunity to eat lobsters, corn-on-the-cob, and blueberry pie, and savor each moment against […]

Needed: A New Approach to Economic Development

Do you think it’s a coincidence that there’s a 1:1 correlation between states that rank in the bottom 50 percentile on the New Economy and states that voted for Trump? I don’t. It makes sense that the populist fervor is coming from places that feel left behind in our decades-long transition to the New Economy. […]

The worst mistake ever: running economic development like a business

“I’m a smart guy (or gal). I can figure this out.” I heard this all summer as we recruited for the Executive Director of the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development. We’re seeing it now in the appointees to President-elect Trump’s cabinet. We’ve seen it for years in economic development, especially the appointment of successful entrepreneurs […]

How to Avoid Ugly Babies

One of the most difficult challenges in my business is when you have to tell a client that their baby is ugly. By that I mean, some clients get an idea in their head, and start telling people about it, and before you know it, the idea has a lot of traction and emotional support. […]

Time for Local Government to be Innovative

Do you have an Apple Watch yet? Probably not, unless you are among the 1 percent of the world that are early adopters – you know, those folks who just have to have the latest thing. I’m clearly not one of them. It took a new boss years ago to force me to get a […]

Leadership is the Single Most Important Thing

I get asked all the time, What is the single thing we could do to move Maine toward an Innovation Economy? In some ways, this is a great question because it is thought provoking, and forces you to think about how to prioritize actions. However, it’s also a dangerous question because it implies that there […]

Evaluations, Good and Not So Good

It’s evaluation week here at Innovation Policyworks LLC. First, a paper ( I co-wrote with Ken Poole, CEO of the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (, has just been published in State Legislature, the journal of the National Council of State Legislatures (NCSL). In our paper, we argue that evaluation of state economic development investments […]

Independent Evaluation Would Have Saved the Day

Last week brought the news that a friend in the technology-based economic development community resigned his position at a high-flying state program amidst press reports that the economic and financial results had been inflated. There are several interesting implications of this event, not the least of which being that we all need to have parachutes […]

Economic Developers and Start-ups

Recently, an electric car manufacturing plant in Indiana closed only two years after state officials there gave the company tax incentives in order to lure 400 jobs to the region. This brought to mind several other examples I know of where state and local economic development officials have dealt with start-ups the same way they […]