Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dr. Peter Beattie, Queensland "Smart State" Model

Dr. Peter Beattie, former Premier of Queensland, Australia, gave the first of four lectures around the State on the Queensland "Smart State" Model.  In a relatively short period of time, Queensland went from (to quote John Warner) "rocks, crops and tourism" to a world class biotechnology center.

Dr. Beattie does not believe that SC should try to compete in life sciences beyond several niches like medical devices.  (The consultants that are updating Charleston clusters agree with this assesssment.)  However, he thinks we have a competitive advantage in areas like biofuels.

He said that the United States has the best universities in the world, but we must continue to invest in research and innovation and then hold the institutions accountable for commercializing the technology.  This will be the only way that we can compete with China, which can commit to long term technology objectives without the inconvenience of election cycles.  As Dr. Beattie said, "if China develops a cure for lung cancer, and I have lung cancer, I am going to China for the cure."

The next three lectures will be in Charleston on October 27, Clemson Sandhill on November 3 and the Strom Thurmond Institute in Clemson on November 16th.  Details, as well as the full text of Dr. Beattie's speech to the SC Commission on Higher Education, are available on the following Swamp Fox link:

SCEDA Mid Year Meeting

Milliken CEO Joe Salley gave the luncheon speech at the SCEDA Mid Year Meeting on October 15.  He listed the various (all good) commitments of the gubnatorial candidates, but asked the question "What is our strategy?"  "What differentiates SC from other states?"  "What are our unique and valuable resources?"  "What role does the sense of place play in our overall strategy?"

Dr. Salley specifically mentioned Michael Porter and the cluster strategy.  This is not a complete strategy, but where there are robust clusters (Silicon Valley, for example), economic development takes care of itself.

He said that we need an overal  strategy that 1) addresses the above questions, and 2) outlasts the term of any one Governor.

I hope that whoever is elected Governor would ask Dr. Salley to play a role in crafting such a strategy. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ambassador of the Year

On September 29, the Columbia Chamber recognized Ed Sellers as Ambassador of the Year.  This award was in recognition of the incredible civic role that Ed and Blue Cross Blue Shield have played over the his tenure as CEO.  He retired from Blue Cross on August 1st, where he added 8000 jobs during his18 years as CEO.  As part of the presentation, four former Ambassadors talked about the need for a long sustained effort to achieve success.  Joel Smith talked about the challenges of creating a positive relationship with the University and the City of Columbia.  John Lumpkin talked about the knowledge economy and the need to sustain support for Innovista and the waterfront.  Lee Bussell talked about the decade long challenge to build a homeless shelter. 

In accepting the award, Ed said that it is a dangerous time.  Many people are angry at the economy and government and many individual and community actions will be threatened.  It is important to sustain these long term efforts. 

We are thrilled that Ed has maintained his own commitment by remaining as Chairman of New Carolina.