The What Ifs of Success
We can ask all day long what a candidate plans to do about jobs, but we really should be focusing on his knowledge of attracting and supporting the kinds of jobs that pay well and solve real-world problems without creating a heap more. What do productive, well-paid workers want and need, and can we build a sustainable network that provides those things? What does an Innovation Economy need to be resilient?
Citizens should ask each candidate what his plans are if he is successful--what will he do to prove he can prepare for success? What if his plans work--what then? What's the downside of success?
1. Will we be blindsided by the need for smart and affordable transportation? Urban and rural transportation challenges already exist. What innovative strategies could be implemented to better mobilize all kinds of people with all kinds of needs?
2. What about smart and affordable housing? What does that look like? Are we doing the best with the housing stock we've got? Does our existing built environment work for everyone our communities already serve? If we attract a more demanding clientele, will we create a situation in which we drive people out with inflated housing prices and gentrified neighborhoods? Under what circumstances should we innovate in rural communities? Truth: In general, we're not building the kinds of long-term functional homes that informed home buyers are shopping for now, so our home builders and remodelers are on the front line of our economic development strategy. Are they willing to learn to build and retrofit for future prosperity and to support talent and quality of life for multiple generations with multiple abilities?
3. Will we accidentally sacrifice what we love about our places in the name of progress, as so many other places have regretted? Which candidate will wisely lead us in the transformation to an Innovation Economy without losing our authenticity, our cultural heritage--our distinct signature of Appalachian charm that impresses many who truly know West Virginia's people and potential?
4. What instructional attitudes and abilities should we instill in our educators of all ages and in traditional and non-traditional situations, so they can address the needs of individuals who must compete in the global economy? What programs, skills, and knowledge do these teachers and parents need to create a new generation of critical, independent thinkers, problem solvers, and effective community contributors?
5. What jobs can be created as we innovate to address crumbling infrastructure? What jobs and leadership opportunities can be created as we deal with the need for expansion in delivering safe, reliable water, healthy food, and effective support services? Do we need to rethink infrastructure all together?
Let's learn the lessons Innovation Economy hubs around the nation can teach. There is much to learn from those who have been there and done that, who are now dealing with the aftermath of their success. Let’s prepare to attract, retain and sustain a new kind of success. We've got the talent, we can acquire the know-how. All we need is political will, informed vision, a collaborative spirit, and masterful executive leadership.#WVGOVTALK