Monday, February 27, 2006

Charleston best in Carolinas in 2005 Best Performing Cities

The Milken Institure 2005 Best Performing Cities ranks U.S. metros based on their ability to create and sustain jobs. The index tracks:

5-yr Job Growth (1999-2004
1-yr Job Growth (2003-2004)
5-yr Wages & Salaries Growth (1998-2003)
1-yr Wages & Salaries Growth (2002-2003)
Job Growth (July04 - July05)
5-yr Relative HT GDP Growth (1999-2004)
1-yr Relative HT GDP Growth (2003-2004)
High-Tech GDP
# of HT GDP

Here's how cities in the Carolina's and Georgia ranked.

2005 Rank2004 RankCity
2257Charleston-North Charleston SC
4534Raleigh-Cary NC
59117Wilmington NC
6950 Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord NC-SC
7852Savannah GA
81156Fayetteville NC
10634Durham NC
110119Augusta-Richmond County GA-SC
117165Winston-Salem NC
11872Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta GA
134178Columbia SC
17192Asheville NC
172165Greensboro-High Point NC
174108Columbus GA-AL
178174Greenville SC
188174Spartanburg SC
191197Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton NC

Saturday, February 25, 2006

InnoVenture Early Bird Discount Last Call

The InnoVenture Early Bird discount ends February 28th.

Register online now and save $25.

The high-tech plutonics industry

Sometimes you just have to have fun with this stuff.

A recent email from a friend: Saw in a Greenville News article this AM, "There's no limit to where a business started by an entrepreneur may go, especially in fields such as biotechnology or photonics." To the best of my recollection, this is the first time that photonics was named specifically along with bio and auto as potential areas for economic/small business growth... looks like the message is slowly getting out.

PS: note that the G'Ville News did once name "plutonics" as an area for entrepreneurial growth but I'm not counting that...

(Excerpt from the Greenville News article he is referring to: "Alliance Pickens is targeting a variety of industries... that includes... the high-tech plutonics, biotech and nano technology industries.")

My response: I'm an expert in plutonics and speak the language fluently...

Friend: When I read that a few years ago, I thought they were announcing a new joint venture between Savannah River National Lab and the North Koreans, or was that Iran?

Me: A common friend says is that we are all definitely from a different planet. Used to be when I talked about this stuff no one in the audience would say a word... I was certain the problem was that I was speaking in plutonics.

Friend: She's probably right.

Releasing the human potential in the Prism's rainbow is a beautiful thing

InnoVenture 2005 was a smashing success: 450 attendees, 30 major organizations with innovation displays, and 15 emerging companies presenting to investors. The energy in the room was electric.

There was one major problem - 448 of 450 people were white, so there were lots of creative, talented people that we missed. Why didn't African-Americans show up? This isn't just an InnoVenture problem. You see it everywhere in our community.

Marvin Rogers and David Mitchell approached InnoVenture in the fall with a solution called the Prism Initiative, designed to attract the best and brightest young talent reflecting the diversity of the community. You are involved in Prism because you are smart and talented, not because of the color of your skin. The diversity of those in Prism is a test of whether we have identified all the talent across the community.

Thursday night was their first event. 80+ bright, creative young professionals showed up. Another smashing success! Below is a string of emails from those that attended.

Releasing the human potential in the Prism's rainbow is a beautiful thing! I am very proud of the team that put this together.

-----Original Message-----
From: Kathie
To: Prism Initiative Committee
Sent: Friday, February 24, 2006 3:02 PM
Subject: Yesterday's Event at BMW

To all,

I was inspired by last night's message and by the awesome people who were there. It helped me to expand my vision one more notch for what is possible. I'm glad I had the opportunity to share the experience with everyone that was there.


-----Original Message-----
From: Timika
Sent: Friday, February 24, 2006 10:01 AM
To: Prism Initiative Committee
Subject: Yesterday's Event at BMW

Good morning,

I would like to thank everyone on the Prism committee for all your hard work in pulling together such an awesome event last night. Everyone that I spoke with shared nothing but great feedback. The collaboration with Pulse and Urban League Young Professionals will help our community pull together our best & brightest young professionals. As I stepped back and took a look at the crowd I saw great leaders of all ages in the same setting networking, building relationships, exchanging business cards......which brought joy to my heart.
I believe this community is now beginning to grasp the concept of what diversity really means. As we continue to work together things will begin to fall in place.

Keep up the great work!


-----Original Message-----
From: Brenda
Sent: Friday, February 24, 2006 9:57 AM
To: Prism Initiative Committee
Subject: Yesterday's Event at BMW

Congratulations to all of you who worked hard to make last night happen! It was a great success for the Prism Initiative---a wonderful milestone. Shoot high, aim for the stars--that's what you all have done.

Thank you all very much,


-----Original Message-----
From: Marvin
Sent: Friday, February 24, 2006 8:55 AM
To: Prism Initiative Committee
Subject: Yesterday's Event at BMW

Hey Gang,

Check out this message...very encouraging way to start the day!

Thank you again for your support.

Have a wonderful day.


-----Original Message-----
From: Heiko
Sent: Friday, February 24, 2006 8:52 AM
To: Prism Initiative Committee
Subject: Yesterday's Event at BMW

Hello Marvin,

It was very nice to meet you yesterday evening for the "Insights at the Intersections of Change" event at BMW.

I really enjoyed listening to you and the other speakers, and to hear about their vision for the future for Greenville and the Upstate. I hope more of these kinds of events will follow and I would really like to be involved in supporting the growing of this great region.

Have a great weekend,


Monday, February 20, 2006

Innovative Metropolitan Areas in the South: How Competitive are South Carolina’s Cities?

Below is are excerpts from the report, Innovative Metropolitan Areas in the South: How Competitive are South Carolina’s Cities?
Eight South Carolina metropolitan areas...(Aiken-Augusta, Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, Charleston, Columbia, Florence, Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson, Myrtle Beach, Sumter)... were placed in the “Medium” grouping... among the South’s larger metropolitan areas (indicating a diversity of economic activity) and had large public or private universities. Thus, these Southern metro areas have good foundations upon which to generate and support innovative activity. However, the Median group, on average, markedly lagged the Outliers, High, and College Town group in terms of innovative activity (as reflected in patents and employment in technical professions) and a supportive environment for entrepreneurs (as measured by availability of venture capital and business services).

The Florence, Sumter, and Myrtle Beach metropolitan areas were placed in the “Below Average” grouping... consisted primarily of relatively small metro areas with little research activity, few college graduates in the work force, and an unfavorable environment for entrepreneurs based on the availability of venture capital, business services, and managerial and business professions. On average, cities in the Below Average grouping need significant improvements in virtually all indicators of innovation to be considered emerging centers of innovation...

None of South Carolina’s eight metropolitan areas were classified as a Regional Innovation System by the classification methodology used in this study... The absence of a cluster of innovative activity in South Carolina should not be interpreted too negatively. Regional innovation systems were relatively uncommon and only 21 of the 117 Southern MSAs were categorized as RIS. Moreover, the five South Carolina MSAs in the “Medium” cluster grouping could be considered “emerging” clusters of innovation that could become RIS with increases in innovation and entrepreneurial activity.

The groupings provided by the cluster analysis hide some of the relative strengths and weaknesses of South Carolina’s metro areas with respect to the principal attributes associated with regional innovation systems (innovative activity, well-educated labor force, supportive entrepreneurial environment, and high local quality of life). For example, among Southern metropolitan areas, the Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson MSA ranks high in innovative activity but medium in human capital and entrepreneurial support services (figure 1). The Columbia and Charleston MSAs, on the other hand, have less innovative activity (as reflected by patents) than G-S-A, but these metro areas rank higher in terms of human capital and entrepreneurial support. The use of innovative activity as a strategy for local economic development requires a local labor market and business services network that facilitate the growth of businesses that evolve from the innovations. Efforts to expand local innovative activity should be accompanied by programs to insure a quality labor force and adequate support services. A focus on innovation alone may result in new patents and products that must move elsewhere to develop into successful businesses.

Finally, many metropolitan areas lack the research university upon which to base an innovation focused economic development strategy. For these areas, Rosenfeld (2002) recommends creating “smart systems” based on an industry clustering approach. Suggested strategies for stimulating innovation and entrepreneurship in these developing clusters include providing investment capital for innovations and business startups, establishing incubators, facilitating entrepreneurial support and networks, and developing cluster–specific technology centers (Rosenfeld, p. 27, 28). Thus South Carolina likely will need to pursue two strategies of development: one focused on promoting emerging RIS centered on a major research university and the other addressing the development of an innovative and entrepreneurial environment around traditional industry clusters (see, for example, Shapira, 2004). A state development strategy targeted only at innovative systems will leave much of the state unserved.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

This is worth repeating again


New Carolina video

New Carolina is the new brand of the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness.

You can watch their “Rising As One” video (19m quicktime file), which was produced for their launch. It's very upbeat, without glossing over the challenges we face.

If you haven't seen it yet, you'll enjoy it.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

What's in it for you? A webcast InnoVenture Forum: Life Sciences at USC

Last summer, an InnoVenture Forum was held highlighting Life Sciences at the University of South Carolina. It describes compelling opportunites to commercialize innovations developed as USC, and it is a preview of the types of opportunities that you'll uncover at InnoVenture 2006.

Note you have to use the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser to view this properly.

Register to attend InnoVenture 2006 today.

What's in it for you? An audio review of InnoVenture 2005

At the end of InnoVenture 2005, Phil Yanov recorded an interview with me about what happened at the conference. It was a pretty good recap, and if you're wondering if InnoVenture 2006 is right for you might want to check out how last year turned out.

Register to attend InnoVenture 2006 today.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

RIP Bob Ballard

Bob Ballard was a friend and part of the leadership team of ZIPIT, a company that presented at InnoVenture 2005. Bob was a genuinely nice and decent person.

Monday night he was playing in a church basketball game and collapsed and died later that night in the hospital. Bob was 43 years old. Last year his wife, Melody, died of cancer. Together, they had three children.

Unbelievable. It puts our problems in perspective.

Bob's obituary in the Greenville News

Do you know Intellistrand in Myrtle Beach?

Intellistrand LLC is an industry leading developer of city, state and leisure portal Internet sites. This week they announced the launch of Baltimore.Com.

I'm looking for a contact that knows Intellistrand. If you do and would be willing to make an introduction, would you please let me know.

Have an idea for the Swamp Fox featured article?

The Swamp Fox featured article, which highlights issues important to our readers, is always the best read on the website.

This week Tony Smith, Sr. Manager of Business Solutions at the SC Department of Commerce, is the author of the featured article: "Your help needed with investment survey of the Carolinas and Georgia."

If you have suggestions for a feature article, in fact if you are interested in authoring a feature article, let us know. We're very interested in encouraging other voices on Swamp Fox.

How'd we get into this mess?

When the War Between the States ended, South Carolina was a devastated place. The reconstruction that followed didn't live up to Lincoln's admonition that it should be "malice toward none with charity for all." Wade Hampton, the first Governor of South Carolina after Reconstruction, tried to recreate the only kind of culture he knew; one in which elite whites governed paternalistically over the rest of society.

Then came Benjamin Ryan Tillman. On the one hand, Tillman helped bring South Carolina into the modern era, promoting scientific agriculture including the creation of Clemson College. But he also advocated a vicious racism, unknown to the generation of Wade Hampton. Tillman’s ideas were institutionalized into the Jim Crow laws and the 1895 South Carolina Constitution that we live with today.

Governor Sanford made reference to this Constitution in his recent State of the State speech:
I talk a lot about the inefficiency of our government. How, because of our structure, we spend 130% the U.S. average on the cost of government. How we need to continue what Carroll Campbell began in changing this government structure -- whose foundation, mind you, is the Constitution of 1895 -- a constitution built around the fear that a black man would be elected governor in Reconstruction South Carolina. A government structure voted into place when women were not allowed to vote, and blacks for all practical purposes could not vote. For our state to be competitive, this structure has to change.
Never Surrender is not a inspiring book by any means. But it does provides valuable insights about how we got into this mess.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Leading when the bullets are flying

Many entrepreneurs can sympathize with a leader around whom bullets are literally flying. A leader's preeminent responsibility is to define the vision and assemble an outstanding team, even in the midst of chaos.

So the leader does. An outstanding team of incredibly talented people is put together. But talented, successful people come with big egos, and sometimes it seems they constantly bicker, even when the world is burning all around them - perhaps because the world is burning all around them. The only thing each member of the team can agree on is that they would be better as the CEO than the current CEO.

That's the situation Abraham Lincoln found himself in. He had a assembled an incredible cabinet, who each though he would be a better president. And Lincoln did the thing that only they leader can do, define the mission, which in his case was to preserve the union. Everything not essential to achieving the mission was negotiable, from slavery to the prosecution of the war.

Team of Rivals will give you an immense new respect for the Lincolns leadership, even if like me you are already a Lincoln fan.

Why innovation in education is critical

Editorialist Terry Plumb in The Rock Hill Herald was exasperated at what he believed was an incredible slight against public education in South Carolina by ABC's 20/20 program by John Stossel, "Stupid in America."

South Carolina is first in high school drop outs and last in SAT scores. So what evidence can Mr. Plumb offer Mr. Stossel that South Carolina public education has been unjustly defamed?
The next time [the producers of "20/20"] want to interview a South Carolina family about public schools, they can talk to the Plumbs of Rock Hill. We'll tell them about two daughters, their scholarships to prestigious colleges, their master's degrees and how they were launched on learning careers by dedicated public school teachers.
Ironically, Mr. Plumb has put his thumb on the problem with the debate about public education. For some children with supportive families in schools with dedicated teachers, the way we deliver public education today produces excellent results, as Mr. Plumb's children demonstrate. We often hear influential people, who themselves were successful in school, argue that if others would merely follow their example they could be successful too.

But our children are a diverse bunch, and they learn best in a variety of ways. For some children, the public school classroom is an extremely difficult environment. For them, a different way of delivering education would better match their learning styles, and they would be much more successful. Right now, we frustrate them, their parents, and their teachers by forcing them into a system not well suited to the way these children absorb information.

Our families also have different levels of capability to support children. We often hear those in public education say that if parents were more involved their children would be more successful. It is true that if every child had two affluent, educated parents at home we would be much better off. Last fall, we saw some families in New Orleans who either could not or would not get out of the way of a hurricane. These parents likely are not able to help their children with their Algebra homework.

Mr. Plumb said that his children had dedicated teachers. Indeed there are many, many excellent teachers in our public schools. But those of us who are parents of public schools students also know teachers who shouldn't be there.

Making a quantum leap in the quality of education we deliver requres empowering the excellent, dedicated teachers. We need a system where entrepreneurial educators can create innovative new models of delivering education to children currently not well served - where parents can then choose the best educational environment for their children.

Of we had a system that gave our best educators the freedom to do what only they can do best, we would be well on our way towards a world class system of universal, innovative, publicly funded education.

Isn't that what we want?

Inez Tenenbaum: ABC 20/20's "Stupid in America" was "outrageously biased"

Last week, I noted that a recent story on ABC's 20/20 by John Stossel titled, "Stupid in America," may be one of the most important you will ever watch. I observed that, "how we create innovation in publicly funded education is the most critical education issue we face across the country." Discussions of public education are very emotional and always get the most comments from Swamp Fox readers, and last week was no exception.

Inez Tenenbaum has a different view, posted on the South Carolina Department of Education website, which she calls "An objective view of 'Stupid in America'"

A Message from Inez
Thursday, February 2, 2006

Dear Friends of Education:

Many of us were distressed by the outrageously biased portrayal of South Carolina's public schools in the segment titled "Stupid in America: How Lack of Choice Cheats our Kids out of a Good Education," which aired recently on ABC's "20/20" program.

Reporter John Stossel's show focused on school vouchers and made no attempt to present an objective examination of the issue. South Carolina interviews and story elements that conflicted with Stossel's personal views were videotaped by ABC but were not used.

During my interview for the show, I was offended but not surprised by Stossel's determination to support his preconceived opinion about the quality of South Carolina's schools, and to ignore overwhelming evidence to the contrary. I was more offended but even less surprised that South Carolina's Governor - whose job it is to strengthen our schools and the economy they support - helped perpetuate a stereotype that is destructive, outdated, and wrong.

Fortunately, most South Carolinians know about the challenges our schools face and the tremendous progress we are making. Rock Hill Herald Editor Terry Plumb is among them. His excellent editorial responding to the "20/20" segment, published January 29, appears in its entirety below for those of us who like a more objective view of South Carolina's schools.

While all of us know the challenges our schools face every day, we will continue to celebrate the many achievements those same schools are making. And we will continue to celebrate the undeniable progress that is being made.


Being stupid in South Carolina
By Terry Plumb The Herald

Who's stupider?

South Carolina school children? Or their governor, who appears with his wife and kids as a poster family on a nationally televised TV program trashing public education?

Two weeks ago, Gov. Mark Sanford was interviewed by John Stossel on "20/20" for a segment titled, "Stupid in America: How Lack of Choice Cheats Our Kids Out of a Good Education." The program was a one-sided diatribe against public education, using a mishmash of anecdotal tales and dissatisfied individuals to characterize teachers as boring, schools as drug-filled and administrators as handcuffed by teacher unions that keep them from firing bad apples.

Do such abuses of the public trust occur? Surely, they do. Are they typical? Hardly.

Palmetto State viewers must have been startled by the dissatisfied family that "20/20" chose to interview. From a transcript of the show: "When the Sanford family moved from Charleston to Columbia, S.C., the family had a big concern: Where would the kids go to school? In most places, you must attend the public school in the zone where you live, but the middle school near the Sanford's new home was rated below average."

This was not a problem for the family, viewers were told, because Mark Sanford is governor and they could afford to send their four boys to private school. In fact, it was only after the Sanfords were invited "to send their kids to schools in better districts," that "Sanford realized how unfair the system was.

"'If you can buy a $250,000 or $300,000 house, you're gonna get some great public education,' Gov. Sanford said."

That's unmitigated crap. The Sanfords never have sent their kids to public school, even before they moved into the Governor's Mansion. Sanford was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and knows little to nothing about what takes place in public schools.

Time magazine labeled Sanford one of the three worst governors in America. He has been widely criticized for failing to reverse one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Think about it: Quality of schools is one of the first things companies examine before deciding to invest. What business executive is going to invest in a state where the governor goes on national TV to talk down public schools?

I have a proposal for the producers of "20/20": The next time they want to interview a South Carolina family about public schools, they can talk to the Plumbs of Rock Hill. We'll tell them about two daughters, their scholarships to prestigious colleges, their master's degrees and how they were launched on learning careers by dedicated public school teachers. And if they don't want to interview us, we'll give 'em 150 names of other families with similar success stories about South Carolina schools.

What our libertarian chief executive would say, of course, is that "school choice," the current buzz word for enticing the citizenry to subsidize private schools and home-schoolers, is essential for children who want to flee "failing schools."

Proponents of plans such as Sanford's pet Put Parents In Charge bill, which deservedly died in the Legislature last year, or a bill introduced last week to create $4,500 scholarships for poor children and $1,000 tax credits for the better off, would say that "school choice" is needed by families that cannot afford private school. When you ask how all these families would be served by these wunderschools, they assure you that the free market would accommodate the demand. That's what "choice" is all about, right?

More crap. Most private schools haven't got the capacity -- or the intention -- to serve but a tiny fraction of children now at inferior schools. Even if they did, a $4,500 scholarship wouldn't pay the freight at most private schools.

In an ideal world, all children would be raised in nurturing families and be served by exemplary schools. In reality, we live in a state plagued by two centuries of poverty and indifference to education, and are governed by politicians who lack the backbone to do anything about it.

In the words of Forrest Gump: "Stupid is as stupid does."

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Ed Sellers' Outrageous Statement About Poverty in SC

All of us from South Carolina know where people in poverty live, don't we? They live down there in places like Allendale, Hampton, and Jasper counties, in the lower part of the Lowcountry. If we're going to solve the problems of poverty in South Carolina, we have to start there, don't we?

At the Greenville Chamber's annual meeting in January, Ed Sellers, Chairman of New Carolina (SC's Council on Competitiveness) made an outrageous statement. Ed said that Greenville, Richland, and Charleston counties each had more people in poverty than the eight rural counties in the lower part of the Lowcountry combined. No one that knows Ed really doubts that he has the data to back an outrageous statement like that up. (Ed has more data at his fingertips that the next ten people in this state combined).

Ed's point is not that we ignore poverty in rural counties, but that we also have to solve poverty in the metropolitan areas of the state, which is where the most people in poverty live. Poverty is not just a problem over there somewhere.

Don't believe Ed? Here's the outrageous truth in the latest data from the US census bureau.



% in poverty

# in poverty