By Pete Julius

We now live in a world that revolves around innovation, speed, adaptability and change.  Those who snooze will lose.  Gone are the days of reactive strategies of survival.  In today’s economy, companies must be at the forefront and willing to take a chance.  The advent of the Internet, which has made information more readily available and purchasing power more dynamic, has caused products to become commodities.  In order to compete, companies must be innovative, creative, diversified and open to alternative perspectives.  Land, labor and capital used to be the main factors of production.  The new factors are now knowledge, communication and innovation.

Innovation helps create increased productivity, and increased productivity helps to lower overall operating costs.  In a time when companies are moving their manufacturing operations to countries with lower operating costs, innovation becomes increasingly important to existing jobs and prevents plant closings.  Globalization has greatly increased the level of competition.  Companies must be highly innovative and connected to be able to survive.  In order for communities be competitive and survive in the new economy they must do the following:

Identify & Retain Valuable Assets     

The most valuable asset is intellectual capital.  Communities must identify the knowledge that exists within their labor pool.  Know-how provides communities with a foundation on which to build. Identifying the knowledge base within the community will identify areas with opportunities for future growth.  More importantly, a community must do everything in its power to attract and retain valuable intellectual assets. 

Promote Entrepreneurial Spirit

Possessing valuable intellectual assets is meaningless if they lie dormant.  Communities must establish programs and initiatives that stretch these assets by promoting entrepreneurial thinking. Organizations and programs must back their promotion of entrepreneurial spirit by

materially assisting individuals seeking to establish new business ventures.  

Educate & Train

To be able to continuously compete and survive in the new economy, communities must possess educational establishments that provide training programs tailored to the existing and emerging economic base of the community.  Tailored programs ensure that the existing labor force continues its education in pertinent and vital areas.  Most communities cannot provide these educational programs all by themselves; businesses must also take an active role in ensuring that their employees get the training they need to prosper.  

Provide Needed Infrastructure

Communities must have the infrastructure necessary to compete and survive in the new economy.  This means that the community needs to be connected and networked. To be able to operate in a global economy, businesses must have access to a fiber optics infrastructure, for example. In the new economy, industries are highly networked.  They cannot survive on their own.  They must have access to suppliers, educational facilities, professional organizations, and funding for capital investments. It is critical that communities understand the nature of the most prominent industries within their area. 

For communities to compete and survive in the new economy, they must create and grow a knowledge-based infrastructure.  As a starting point, communities must inventory and promote the existing intellectual resources within the community.  In addition, communities must evolve from a commodity-based economy to one that is knowledge-based. This can be accomplished through education initiatives designed to teach the workforce how to develop and protect intellectual property.  Developing places and activities that improve the quality of life, such as sporting complexes, arts venues, and family and recreational activities can attract knowledge-based workers.  If communities do not posses these assets, then they must work on improving their quality of life.     

Of course, larger communities are at a slight advantage.  They have many of the necessary pieces in place to compete in the new economy. But what are they doing to survive?  As smaller communities begin to evolve with the new economy, this growth may actually pull resources out of larger communities.  So what are larger communities doing to retain their existing intellectual capital and business? Just because some communities have made the transition from an old economy to a new economy does not mean that they can rest.  The economy is rapidly evolving.   

For more information, please visit:

  • Progressive Policy Institute (
  • Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (