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John Norwood
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Christian- Enjoyed your remarks today, and your thoughts on the blog regarding risk aversion. I agree w/many of your observations. If you don't mind, I'd take issue with a couple of things you say, because they are often repeated around here as self-evident conclusions, but I think they really need to be placed into context of the world around us. 1. Is the idea re: the brain drain of youth. I'd argue the issue isn't so much how many 20 somethingers leave to go someplace else, the more important question is how many come back in their late 20s/ 30s to work and raise families? Mobility is a fact of life, and 20 somethingers from around the country seek out adventure and experience, often away from the nest. We need more of that outside experience and creativity in this state, not less. 2. Related to 1. is the idea that our Regents universities export alot of degrees because we import alot of students. I noticed you pick up on that point. If we just serviced our own instate student needs, we'd have a university system of a much smaller scale and richness. The larger scale allows us synergies on many levels from Medical and engineering advances, to more competitive football. So, exporting students in and of itself is not a bad thing. How many students are staying to work at startups? When I asked that question back in 2003 at the UofI's Biz/entrepreneurial center...the answer from the director I met with was, paraphrasing, "no, our students don't do that...it's too risky..they go and work for companies like John Deere." We need to change that mindset as you all spoke so well about today. 3. This idea of population growth being stagnant and not a good thing needs to be re-thought in terms of sustainability. Why can't we have a sustainable economy with a stable population with the goal being full employment and ever increasing wages vs. the notional that we need to add more people to drive growth and prosperity? I think Europe might be able to teach us a thing or two about that, as well as overpopulated countries like China, which are desperately trying to reel in population growth. While Iowa's population has remained almost flat for 100 years, perhaps that is for good reason given our focus on agricultural productivity. Also, as David S. noted, while 2/3 of our 99 counties are shrinking as production agriculture continues to scale up, the other 1/3 in our metro regions are growing at a fairly steady clip. So, I think population growth in and byitself is not what we really need to compete successfully on the global stage: we need to think more about how "small can be beautiful"? How can we can use our smaller scale to advantage over high population/high cost centers of living like the Bay Area or Boston, where there is greater separation between the haves and have nots? We have tremendous cost and quality of life advantages in living and working in a smaller, less overpopulated metro; yet my observation is we tend to undersell those attributes. I really like your messaging about mentoring. I think that's one of the most important keys, as I look back to my time around 128 and Sand Hill Road. Capital is mobile. People and ideas are mobile. We have lots of great ideas in this state. What we need is a community of experienced risk takers who can teach and lead others in starting new business ventures. I applaud all the speakers today as well as Mike Colwell's efforts to build the ecosystem. I'd encourage us all to look beyond just the Silicon Valley model. Minneapolis, Chicago, Omaha, KC, and other midwestern hubs may have some ideas that are a better fit for our midwestern culture. Thanks again, John
Toggle Commented Sep 13, 2011 on Are Iowans Risk Averse? at Christian Renaud's Blog
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Sep 13, 2011