03.16.05 NOTES: Economics of NEO Generation @REI

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Wed, 03/16/2005 - 16:17.

Roberta Waxman-Lenz speaks of the origins and purpose of this initiative - this is the 3rd meeting nurtured by REI centered on the connection between early childhood development and economic development.

Ed Morrison speaks of his experience in governmental economic development that first connected these concepts in the late 1980's, leading to initiatives of Commission on the South - Ed now wants to see Northeast Ohio as a global center of investing economic development funding in children as opposed to moving companies around - transfer the $100s millions into the open source process focused on conversation in critical areas outlined in Ed's Open Source Economic Development Framework - http://realneo.us/node/575

Ed stresses we need to think about all this very differently than in the past - Commission on the South started with concept Economic Development begins with the pregnant mother - looks to making pre-school and all day kindergarten available to all children. REI is taking that thinking across this region - not inventing new ways but leveraging existing strengths and migrating what we are doing into the economic development space - build that Return On Investment (ROI) argument so "business" leaders see the connection - and how do we build that vision out across the region - leverage network of universities and organizations.

It is Ed's position the county should completely stop spending money to move companies around the region, and rather to invest that in the pregnant mom and early child development. Ed's defense of this position is to point to successes across the country, and costs of failure - like $25,000 cost per student to help unprepared dropout through to a GED versus investing well to prepare students to succeed throughout life.

Economic Development is a complex system - challenge is to operate effectively in the civic space - build networks around brainpower (not blame-game around education). Ed's model puts brainpower first at the most fundamental level in his economic model. Ed points out the failure of the hierarchical model of command and control that remains the foundation of traditional economic development, being get an entry level job at large organization - work up the chain of pay-scales within the constraints of your "degrees" - stay in company for life - all that is dead.

Q. Money follows great ideas - I know two corporations that have moved their jobs to China - how does that trend fit in the open source model? Ed responds his model is one that works in any region - e.g. Silicon Valley - and by doing this right we become competitive again, allowing retention and even return of work to a better workforce developing here. To maintain US standard of living we must compete with China, etc., at the brainpower level. We cannot operate on the Sigmoid Curve of prosperity versus time - Cleveland peaked decades ago and should have innovated economic models 20 years ago - we did not and our economy is suffering. Now asks, what would NEO economy look like as world leader in early child development... brainpower.

Q. Attendee expected to talk here about how to make children into more desirable workers who will attract new companies. Is that not the objective? Ed points out the model is a strategic learning model - what can we do together - e.g. 2nd session said research, educating the community/public relations... Ed is interested in identifying opportunities, determining how to address, align collaborators - map networks - adopt certain civic behaviors - we are all civic entrepreneurs.

Q. We have many great universities - is this model all about connecting them up? Ed explains every inner city has similar problems with inner city education - 70% of output of schools lead to drop out (dependency) and low paying jobs (working poor)... under $10/hour... 30% lead to higher paying jobs, largely through higher education - thus it is essential to focus on better preparing children.

Invest in Children - Michelle Katona - formerly known as early childhood initiative - 1999 - county commissioners - is attracting funding - is about providing good life for children - keeping them on a positive trajectory - build safety net to have as optimal development as possible - large numbers of children in welfare system, dropping out - if we can keep on positive trajectory they will be valuable citizens. County asked what do we need to do - prenatal - effective parents and families - safe and healthy children - entire community committed to young children - now research is showing this leads to strong return on investment - if we do it right - prepare children for kindergarten and then to stay in school - has impact on workforce - parents are less stressed out if there are quality preschool programs and kids are healthy. Put programs together as a package - Invest in Children is now seeing support of government at every level - county and state, pushing at federal level.

She points to all the early child development leaders in the room and says we need to work together to pool resources - take steps to move this vision and strategy forward - there is great work being done in every country and community that can be leveraged to move the region forward.

The group gets a quick overview of REALNEO -Â and new Early Child Development site http://theneogen.org - which offers everyone an opportunity to continue the dialogue and inclusion - break into open dialogue - brainstorm - next steps by email and online.

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