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December 2012
We Have the Keys to Our Own Future!
By John Paul Galles

     Jim Clifton, CEO of Gallup, wrote in his recent book, The Coming Jobs War, that what most people want in our global marketplace is a job.

     In order to rebuild the American economy and create new and better jobs, we need to boost innovation and entrepreneurship that will create new businesses and new wealth. Clifton says that the next big economic breakthrough will come from the combination of the forces within big cities, great universities and powerful local leaders. He says the top 100 universities, along with 10,000 local business leaders, represent America’s supercollider for job creation.

     Charlotte is likely to become just that…an important supercollider for job creation. We have a dynamic and growing urban area; we have great universities with research capacity already in place and active; we have great community colleges already working to transition workers from one economy to another; we have great local and state leadership to forge the important partnerships that will work together; and we have the business resources, talent and ambition to produce that significant economic growth and advancement that will engage the global economy over the next 50 years. We simply have to create the clusters and connections to stimulate new ideas.

     In the U.S. Presidential campaign, we heard a lot of talk about how jobs would be created and how the U.S. economy would recover from the worst economic downturn since the depression. Now that the race is over, we seem to be mired in another prolonged debate that focuses the fiscal cliff and increasing taxes, cutting spending or some combination of the two in order to reduce our fiscal deficit and work towards a balanced budget 10 to 20 years in the future.

     What most businesses want is a stable business environment that is reasonably predictable. Then, given the mix of conditions, regulations and taxes, they will adjust their business models as they are impacted. Businesses will adapt to change and survive as long as they can make a profit and a rate of return on their investments.

     The problem with our current economy is much bigger than taxes and regulations. In order to maintain U.S. economic dominance, our economy needs to grow at a much faster rate. It must grow beyond the measly annual growth rate of 1.5 percent for the past several years. Many economists are worried that we are faced with a long period of stagnation with limited growth.

     Clifton points out that similar concerns existed 30 years ago when the economies of Japan and Germany were rising dramatically. Economists projected growth rates consistent with their performance at the time and predicted that both Japan and German economies would exceed the United States by 2010. Fortunately, they were wrong. U. S. GDP soared from $3.8 trillion to its current $15 trillion. The U.S. did not fall to third; its GDP grew at nearly five times the forecasted rate and is still No. 1.

     What was not predicted in those numbers was the quantum leap in innovation and entrepreneurial growth in the U.S. that surprised everyone. Instead, it was American entrepreneurship that successfully capitalized on technology and the Internet, creating millions of new businesses and new jobs and exporting them everywhere.

     Now, we face a similar challenge from global economics. To stay ahead, the U. S. needs a growth rate of 5 percent of GDP annually. We have work to do.

     We are fortunate to have several economic concentrations within our regional economy that will support greater innovation and entrepreneurial growth. In addition to our substantial banking sector, we have an active energy cluster formed, organized and encouraged to produce economic breakthroughs and advancements. We can add to those clusters in the areas of sustainability, advanced manufacturing, education and health care among others.

     UNC Charlotte wants to be known as the Urban Research Institute among the North Carolina university system. It is well on its way with its focus on economic development and its Research Institute, the NC Research Center, Belk School of Business, the Energy, Production and Infrastructure Center, the School of Informatics, the Public Health School, and many others including a medical school in the future.

     Add to that the presence and active educational roles performed by Queens University, Johnson C. Smith University, Davidson University, Wake Forest, and Northeastern.

     We are in the right place at the right time to make a huge difference in our future. We are looking for the right business leaders to step forward and become involved in a collaborative effort that will spawn the creation of new business entities built on new ideas that create new wealth for the future of the next generation. If you are interested in participating, we want you and your ideas to join others to spark aggressive economic growth.

     Please let me know about you, your interests, ideas and ambitions. Call or write me today!

John Paul Galles is the publisher of Greater Charlotte Biz.
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