San Jose, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Boston and Austin are America’s most future-ready cities—but each arrived on top with a different balance of strengths.
Those were the findings from the Dell Future Ready Economies Model based on insights and criteria developed at the 2015 Strategic Innovation Summit: Enabling Economies for the Future, hosted by Harvard University and sponsored by Dell.
The model is meant as a tool for cities to gauge their preparation for future growth.
The summit identified three primary characteristics of Future Ready Economies: the ability to attract people who are engaged in and open to lifelong learning that drives innovation; businesses that thrive in collaborative environments; and infrastructure that provides platforms for people to engage, collaborate, learn and innovate.
Dell commissioned IHS Economics to find proxy indicators that define those characteristics. The resulting index is a model intended to help decision makers understand what makes certain cities more prepared for future growth.
“We’re very confident these cities will grow faster in the next five to ten years than most other cities,” said James Diffley, IHS Economics Group Managing Director for U.S. Regional Services.
The rankings revealed no definitive formula for achieving future readiness, though education figured prominently. The top four cities overall were also the top four of cities with the highest percentages of undergraduate and graduate school degrees.
San Jose ranked highly in labor force participation, productivity and wages and productivity growth. San Francisco topped the chart in human capital as well as innovation and investment. But both lagged behind other top cities in infrastructure.
Washington, D.C., drew strong rankings in human capital, to offset a relatively weak commerce ranking.
Austin outranked Boston in commerce and infrastructure, but Boston’s human capital grades—particularly in learning—boosted it to the fourth overall spot.
Portland, OR, rode the strength of its infrastructure into the top ten, while Dallas/Fort Worth made it primarily due to its commerce scores.
All but six of the 25 most future-ready cities have open data initiatives. Five of the top ten cities were among the six highest concentrations of venture capital. And four were in the top ten cities for affordable energy.
The index revealed that future readiness is not dependent on geography or being “better” than other economies, but rather relies on finding the strengths in a given economy and capitalizing on them.
“For instance, Louisville was impressive. They seem to be set up to take advantage of natural advantages they have,” Diffley said. “Is Louisville going to do better than San Jose? No, but I think Louisville will get the best out of their potential.”
Dell and IHS intend to release an index for international rankings in the next few months.
Top 25 Future Ready Economies:
- San Jose, CA
- San Francisco, CA
- Washington, DC
- Boston, MA
- Austin, TX
- Raleigh, NC
- Seattle, WA
- Denver, CO
- Portland, OR
- Dallas-Fort Worth, TX
- New York, NY
- Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
- Houston, TX
- Atlanta, GA
- Charlotte, NC
- San Diego, CA
- Chicago, IL
- Louisville, KY
- Salt Lake City, UT
- Des Moines, IA
- Los Angeles, CA
- Pittsburgh, PA
- Kansas City, MO
- Columbus, OH
- Philadelphia, PA
Now what is so very interesting about Greensboro is that on the surface it appears to be the perfect candidate for a city that would be future-ranked and yet it isn't. For example, Greensboro is a college town filled with universities offering advanced degrees in all sorts of technologies that kids who grow up in Greensboro can't afford to attend.
And in terms of human capital we have the highest unemployment in the state, lots of folks to fill those jobs, but if and when a high tech company does ever decide to come here they'll have to bring in workers from elsewhere because our leaders were too busy building megasites to ever get around to advanced job training.
Heck, Greensboro even has an open data initiative of which I'd never heard of until I started preparing for this article. I'll be posting a link to this on the top left of the page for future reference.
The fact that Louisville is doing so well is impressive. You see Louisville has a UPS hub built very much like the Fed Ex hub which cost taxpaxers well over $100 Million Dollars here in Greensboro but while UPS brought thousands of jobs to Louisville Fed Ex brought Zero jobs to Greensboro.
But despite all the things Greensboro has in common with the top 25 there is 1 thing the study identified that definitely does not describe Greensboro:
"The summit identified three primary characteristics of Future Ready Economies: the ability to attract people who are engaged in and open to lifelong learning that drives innovation; businesses that thrive in collaborative environments; and infrastructure that provides platforms for people to engage, collaborate, learn and innovate."
Go ahead, try and be collaborative with Greensboro's economic "gurus" and you'll learn the same lesson other outsiders have all learned the hard way.
With that we add yet another update to the list of reasons why Greensboro Sucks.
And folks, get ready for yet another disappointing mention in the New York Times as they are covering this as well.
Please continue reading Greensboro Not Ranked Future Ready: Part 2