In the Heart of Silicon Valley

OCTOBER 22, 2010 12:10 AM| no comments

Well we get around don’t we! WebsEdge is producing television programmes at seven different conferences this month including the world’s biggest law enforcement event in Orlando, Europe’s leading social services event in Manchester and the Canadian Society for International Health conference in Ottawa. I guess some 40, 000 people will attend these events and another 250, 000 will view our content through the various on-line channels.

Another of those conferences is the International City and County Managers Association event in San Jose California. And it isn’t just the fact that I’m 35, 000 feet up in the air, connected to the internet, that makes me think of innovation. No, it’s the fact that the WebsEdge team has spent the last week in the heart of Silicon Valley.

And we’ve learnt so much. The ICMA conference attracts a few thousand city managers from all over the United States as well as some from international communities. And whilst some might put a different gloss on it they’re all working through the same problems. In fact it’s one problem – how do you grow a community in the current economic climate?

There were many excellent sessions looking to address this question ranging from prominent economists to leading on-line gaming theorists. But the standout session for me was led by three Silicon Valley CEO’s. They explained eloquently that this was now a global battleground and that companies would simply go where they could prosper the most. But that if a community could attract them the company would repay that through community engagement which would be beneficial for both citizens and employees.

So far so good. But this disguises a major disconnect at the heart of modern economic and social policy throughout the developed world. Consumers  and shareholders are driven by the same thing. The ability to sell goods cheaply whilst making high profits. Nothing wrong with that you may say. But the problem is that our communities need jobs. In fact the unemployment rate in Silicon Valley is 12.5% and that isn’t going to even start to come down until we can use innovation to create jobs and not just raise productivity.

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