My summer reading has included The Rainforest:The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley. This book was recommended to me by Rick Smyre, President of Communities of the Future, and was well worth the read. Much talk occurs in economic development around the goals of growing and attracting innovative entrepreneurs and companies. Many communities and regions have strategies within their economic development plans related to these goals. These strategies often focus attracting and leveraging the physical components typically seen in innovation-based economies such as research institutions, PhD workers, technology businesses, labs and incubators, and digital infrastructure. But as the authors point out, while these assets are important, growing and sustaining innovative regions is less about their mere presence and more about the nature of culture, networks, and communications within the region. The authors refer to this as “the recipe for economic production” that gives life to the ingredients.
I particularly liked this book because of its fit with the work being done by the Creative Molecular Economy Network of the Communities of the Future regarding the economic transformation and the future economy. Both stress the importance of new ways of thinking and communicating to grow regional economies, the importance of self-organizing networks, and a pervasive culture to adapt and act. I highly recommend this book to economic and community development professionals not only as a guide for strategies to support entrepreneurs and grow innovative companies but also to gain a deeper understanding around what is driving the future economy and how to build innovative regions.