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Welcome - Issue 22

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The Higher ED Blog: Incubators generate results but still might not be worth the investment

Brunswick Business Incubator

By Catherine Oosterbaan

How do you attract and retain the startup or early stage business that is poised for rapid growth, innovation, and job creation? This is a key question on the minds of economic developers across the country. One potential solution that appears to be emerging as a popular tool is the development of business incubators and accelerators. 

Business incubators and accelerators typically provide a central location where startups can access  a suite of services designed to support the commercialization of products, processes or services, and facilitate fundraising. In 2006, the National Association for Business Incubation surveyed its members (report available for purchase online) and shared a number of very attractive statistics around business incubators in the United States:

  • Current and graduate incubator tenants have created over 500,000 jobs since 1980;
  • For every 50 jobs created within the incubator, another 25 are created in the broader community;
  • In 2001 alone, incubator tenants and graduates created over 82,000 jobs and generated over $7 billion in revenue; and
  • 87% of business incubator graduates survive beyond 5 years.

After hearing those stats, who wouldn’t want one of these employment and economic drivers in their community?

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Will Vancouver’s housing bubble burst?

Vancouver skyline from the water

By Neil O'Farrell

In the book A Short History of Financial Euphoria, the prominent economist John Kenneth Galbraith described the causes and commonalities of speculative financial episodes, from economic amnesia to intense speculation to the inevitable crash, among others. One of the ironies he perceived is that although these features appear in every economic crisis from the tulips of 17th Century Holland to the stock market of 1920s America, they are rarely ever heeded to prevent future calamities.

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The Higher ED Blog: 3D Printing and other technologies farmers should get excited about

3D printer at work

By Barry Potter

Recently I attended the University of Waterloo’s advanced economic development course (Year 3) in Kitchener.  It was held at the Communitech Hub,  a former hide tanning facility has been converted to a centre where digital media geniuses converge to invent the latest in techno gadgets.   Where cow hides were once made into leather, now tech companies at all stages of development are supported so they can innovate and grow. Companies such as Google, Desire 2 Learn  and Christie Digital, the company that created the 3D graphics for the London Olympic Games, have office space there.  While at the course I was exposed to new ideas that could enhance farming, including the “Maker Economy”. 

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The Top 7 Intelligent Communities of 2015: The year of “The No Name Cities”


By Lou Zacharilla

The best thermometer of how the world views the 2015 finalists for the world’s most Intelligent Community of the Year designation is best found in the press coverage.  This year the lesson is that dark horses have reached for the top. Forbes noted that the Top7 “are not the cities you think of immediately” as tech powerhouses.  The UK’s Independent said as much and concluded by saying that we can learn from them. Noting the population differences the Independent referred to Mitchell, SD (pop 15,000) as the “minnow” of the group. The South Dakota community, in the mind of the press, is swimming upstream in its quest for further glory in Toronto in June when we will announce the 2015 Intelligent Community of the Year.

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The Higher ED Blog: Four lessons to consider when engaging in regional collaboration

North Country School

By Brittany Bruce

Over the past few decades—with increasing prevalence—, many governments and non-government stakeholders have been calling for greater collaboration in regional economic development. There is an expectation that regions, consisting of multiple cities and counties, will be capable of mobilizing more resources than a single municipality would be able to alone. This is a reasonable and attractive expectation, but one that is often hindered by the complexity of working with diverse stakeholders.

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The Ponzi scheme of urban sprawl?

By Neil O'Farrell

In 1919, an Italian-born Boston entrepreneur named Charles Ponzi began to employ a clever way of making large sums of money.  It was not to last. His methods, though profitable in the short-term, were both illegal and highly unsustainable.

The method he used, though not of his own invention, became known as a Ponzi scheme.  The concept is simple-enough, whereby money is returned to initial investors from the funds raised by subsequent clients.  While financiers continue to pour money into the scheme, the system runs as a smooth masquerade. But as soon as a glitch occurs, things tend to unravel fantastically. At some point, as it did for Ponzi, the party ends.

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