Tag Archives: economic development

The pack of cards…when in Reno

Another full on day with a lot driving made easier with the freeways, beautiful scenery and very welcoming people.

Sacramento County

I sought out Rami as he was recently named one of the Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Doers by Govtech and Sacromento County has won numerous tech awards.  We discussed digital government and I came away with a huge amount of confidence that the team at Taupo is on the right track.  Current and future focuses centre around regular website refreshes, the need for mobile apps, linking data (e.g. Crime and graffiti), the intersection of Geospatial and data and a single view for customers.

Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy, Carson City

Paul the Director and his team hosted me in the early afternoon for a quick overview of Nevada energy.  I was primarily interested in geothermal, given Nevada is the number one in installed geothermal per capita and Taupo’s strength in this area.  A highlight was by pure chance meeting and talking with Governor Paul Sandoval and witnessing the launch of the Nevada Electric Highway.  Note the highway “is expected to link rural areas and bring business to those communities from EV owners who make the stop to charge their cars”.  Electric vehicles are going to take off in some shape or form and communities should be taking action now to dip their toe in the water, ready to embrace what may become the norm.

Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN), Reno

Mike graciously shared his views on economic development and they have definitely stepped it up a level from when we last spoke in 2013. Mike is incredibly humble, and our meeting was definitely a lesson in leadership. EDAWN has five key strategies: retain and grow, attract, entrepreneurship, workforce development and community development.  What also impressed me was their great handle on metrics to track progress.  When Mike started there was 14% unemployment and now it’s down to half that and going lower.  A very bright future is on the horizon with Tesla building their gigafactory which will create 6500 jobs!  Their entrepreneurship program started from scratch and won Innovation Ecosystem Award.  A gem they showed me was the Reno startup deck which is an innovative way of integrating Reno’s gaming history and useful tools for startups – genius!



The brief – step change economic development

Here’s my brief for the Winston Churchill Fellowship.

The elevator pitch

To research what makes places grow, stagnate or decline with a focus on small locations outside cities.

Identify the actions that people can take to get a ‘step change’ in the places where they live.

I started off calling this ‘provincial’ economic development but you can swap this out for ‘small town’, ‘rural’, ‘regional’, ‘local’ or ‘outside big cities’.  


Explore the different perspectives of those who have an impact – private sector, non-government and government.


United States, Europe and China.  I’m visiting both cities and smaller locations to look at transferable actions.


June-July 2015.


Economic development, particularly but not exclusively job creation, is the foundation of every community, no matter what size.  Most if not all local communities in New Zealand will continue to face the challenge of how to maintain (let alone increase) employment and therefore how to sustain growth.

Provincial New Zealand is undergoing a significant shift in how economic wealth is generated, and many communities are struggling. In particular value is able to be generated without increasing job creation (e.g. in dairy) or traditional “work” in such local communities (for example in retail).

The challenges local economies face now will only intensify over the next few decades, including industry changes, the growth in dominance of service provision over production, technology, education, labour supply, agglomeration, aging population and affordability.  Each of these issues has flow-on affects, and when combined the problems become more complex, impacting the viability of economies.   More specifically how communities benefit and remain viable under different economic processes is critical.

The value add in many new successful economies does not come from traditional sources such as raw materials, low or even partially skilled work, physical presence near customers – industrial models are changing or disappearing and with them so too many of the traditional employment structures and infrastructures.

People talk of Zombie Towns, neglected regions and how to revive them.  There’s no silver bullet but we’ve got to do something – doing nothing is not an option.

Starting out – the first blog

And so it begins. I’ve talked for too long about starting a blog, and finally here it is.

This will start out as my thoughts on economic development, as I head to the US, Europe and China on a Winston Churchill fellowship in mid 2015. Along the way it will include other perspectives on people, strategy, and change and how they all link to high performance. Where will it go from there?

Makes me think – what is it that holds people back? From starting, from continuing, from finishing. The answer is a whole lot of things…fear, procrastination, lack of resilience, attitude, impatience….

So, there it is. I’ve started, and it wish I’d done it earlier, because I’ve actually shipped that post I’d thought about for so long, and guess what, It only took 10 minutes to write on a bus early in the morning.

I’d appreciate your feedback and if you’re really keen, be my guest blogger…