On Sunday, I wrote about the strategic plan being drafted by the Washington State Economic Development Commission to make the state a world-beater in innovation. Seattle and the Puget Sound region already have formidable assets to offer. But even we face major competition from the Bay Area, San Diego, Austin, New York City, Boston and the North Carolina Research Triangle. World competition is also heated.
The state as a whole faces more daunting challenges. The world is not flat, as Thomas Friedman would have it. The winners in the new world order tend to be metropolitan areas. Rural America is generally poorer, less educated, less wired and less attractive for innovating companies. Its economic “wins” are usually things like prisons or low-employment server farms that waste huge amounts of energy. (The New York Times focused on one example in Quincy, Wash.)
Not surprisingly, unemployment in Grays Harbor County was 12.4 percent in July, 12.7 percent in Ferry County and 12.3 percent in Lewis County. These compare with statewide 8.5 percent and 7.8 percent in King County. The old extraction and fishing sectors fade away and little replaces them. Moses Lake has been successful in attracting some companies, but Grant County’s jobless rate was 8.3 percent. Counties with lower rates of unemployment tend to be sparsely populous and helped by agriculture, tourism and government employment.
Much can be done to help the entire state, including enhancing infrastructure and fixing the atrocious gap in college attainment. Agriculture remains a powerful economic engine that can carry its own innovation. And many rural residents like their homes to be, well, rural. But the reality remains that all over the world, urban areas will remain the key innovation engines, no matter how much statewide policymakers want to please a wide constituency.
And Don’t Miss: Shell companies — launderers anonymous || The Economist
Today’s Econ Haiku:
The first autumn leaf
Dropped upon me this morning
Not an Apple share
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