China’s Good Example on Creating Partnerships

// // in Company



As a recent guest of what is arguably the United States’ greatest global competitor, I returned from China with a particularly interesting souvenir: a challenge.


I was privileged to be one of more than 100 international voices invited by the Chinese State Agency for Foreign Expert Affairs to share experiences, which helps guide China’s business growth and identifies strategic partners.


The experience provides a lesson in approaching – and gaining from – the world’s collective institutional knowledge, and China joins a field of many key nations employing a similar initiative. The experience also frames a potential collaborative endeavor for the Philadelphia area to pursue.


The United States’ role as the world’s leading nation is constantly tested. Fierce competition in research and development, technology, and innovation finds the United States sitting sixth in the most recent Bloomberg Innovation Index, looking up at South Korea, Germany, and Israel, among others. The American entrepreneurial spirit remains impressive, but there is more to be achieved.


Reclaiming the top ranking in this and similar metrics would require that innovative best practices and technology resources permeate a greater percentage of the U.S. economy – which would have a direct impact on the Delaware Valley. Accelerated performance in innovation and advanced industries invigorates economic and workforce development goals and, ideally, provides for job opportunities and income mobility. Even the slightest shift toward new growth can be a difference-maker in the Philadelphia region.


Make no mistake, Philadelphia has ground to gain. Peer regions have enjoyed a greater economic recovery since 2008, and, despite our vast institutional resources, several niche metro hubs have surpassed the former “Workshop of the World” in pushing new product ideas and modern approaches.


According to a recent Brookings Institution analysis, the Philadelphia metro region ranks 12th in the United States in advanced industries jobs and in patents since the recession, falling behind Detroit, Austin, and Minneapolis. A sample of the potential to be realized, Brookings also finds total metro region exports placing 10th nationally, our average manufacturing salary at 23rd, and tech-sector employment at 40th. Strikingly, the post-recession data finds Philadelphia treading water at 59th in gross product recovery and 64th in unemployment recovery.


More success in the region overall could translate into a sustained enterprise, greater efficiency, or new relevance in the marketplace for local businesses. Even the smallest gains could mean, for the average employee, a better salary and a boost in quality of living.


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