Thursday, April 06, 2006

We've been building buildings, not focusing on building talent, haven't we?

One of the things stuck in my mind from InnoVenture 2006 was a conversation I had with an official of the City of Greenville. We were in the CIO Roundtable on the first day, listing to IT leaders tell us what they needed to be successful. The Roundtable discussion focused on talent, talent, and more talent.

The City of Greenville has done a wonderful job over the last 30 years of rejuvenating Main Street into one of the best downtowns in America. If you haven't visited lately, you should. Downtown Greenville has turned into a very neat place.

The city official turned to me and said, "We've been building buildings, not focusing on building talent, haven't we?"

Now this official has known intellectually for a long time that talent was critical. What happened at InnoVenture is that this lesson was absorbed emotionally... as in "this really is important isn't it?"

It's conversations like these that are the real signs that we are making progress. We're really starting to get it, not just in or heads, but in our souls.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

In focusing on talent, we also need to be sure that all levels of talent are addressed. I also was in the room during the CIO round-table discussion and they were specific on the need to executive level talent. I also think we need to create and environment that encourages younger talent as well. Greenville is a great place if you are married with children. It is not that great if you are single and looking for the nightlife and excitement that a bigger city has to offer. The City Council needs to consider the impact on all levels when they make decisions regarding downtown's "atmosphere".

Anonymous said...

I think it's obvious to everyone else that downtown buildings can't innovate...

proves that for too long too many people in the Upstate have been trying remedy the symptoms and not the disease.

the immediate treatment should be a greater emphasis on attracting knowledge-based companies to Greenville which improves wage rates in the area.

Once we attract a critical mass of highly-educated people they will innovate and then spin-off new companies, that will make a meaningful difference in the long-run economic well-being of the upstate...until then we'll be spending our way through this economic malaise...

Doug Moreland said...

As was noted in the CIO roundtable, Computer Science enrollment is way down. I would not be surprised if this were true in other sciences. The effect of this will be felt in years to come... shortages of software talent, more offshoring of development work. This problem is nationwide, so the answer is not just recruitment to the southeast from the big MSAs.

We need a grassroots effort from within. Just as great companies grow talent from within, great regions can grow talent from within.

We should focus some of our resources on generating interest in math and science at the K12 levels.

Jeff Papenfus said...

I read echoed here a refrain i've often heard "Greenville doesn't have ______ like a big city".

Well, folks it may have escaped your attention but Greenville isn't a big city. The City of Greenville is @ 58,000 people. The County of Greenville is pushing 400,000. Our entire MSA is less than 1.5 million.

Of course we don't have the nightlife and entertainment of a big city. But we DO have more nightlife and excitement than any other 60,000 (and most 150,000 or more) person city in the country. On any given night there are many places for young or young at heart people to go, meet, socialize, or etc. Many of the most talented that we wish to retain and attract will be excited to have the opportunity to be a big fish in a smaller pond...rather than get lost in the crowd in New York or LA. To relish the opportunity to come to a community where anything is possible, the future is wide open for opportunity.

I do agree that our City leaders must consider the impact on everyone when the growth of our City is at stake. And if it is not managed correctly the City will suffer, as other options emerge outside City limits to offer entertainment for the talented, energetic people who are and will be coming to stay here.

I am first to be up in arms when City Council does something without thinking through the full ramifications. We will continue to work with the City to ensure that the growth we are experiencing is NOT stifled. Soon discussions will begin to that end - stay tuned for updates on when and where to voice your own thoughts.

But, at the end of the day, we are not Atlanta, Richmond or even Charlotte - we are Greenville, SC.

Better today, even better tomorrow.