Thursday, June 15, 2006

drisana-nari was, like absinthe, the toast of pittsburgh

The other day I was doing a quick search for the number of SBIR grants which were attained by businessesin Youngstown over the past decade. These Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants are offered by various entities within the U.S. Government, such as the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy, and are often used as a metric of innovation for a geographical area. I was searching though databases for this information, and then a question occurred to me: do some organizations in NEO track all of these types of countable innovation metrics for both the Northeast Ohio region and the individual metropolitan statistical areas within NEO?

I few weeks ago, I read the impressive “State of the Industry Report” published by the Pittsburgh Technology Council. This document is produced annually and tracks a number of metrics of the technology and information-intensive industry in the Pittsburgh region. Not only is it informative, but the layout is great also. It is colorful, well-organized, and the electronic pdf version contains numerous clickable pathways so you can navigate easily to employment data, small vignettes about local businesses, and other specific components of the report. I liked the ability to jump from point to point within the report, and the ease of returning to the body as I read through to their recommendations. The report can be downloaded here.

Look to page 27 of a clickable summary of its contents. Five primary clusters of technology industries are identified: information technology, life sciences, advanced manufacturing, advanced materials, and environmental technology. The report continues to track employment size, number of companies, and the payroll for specific sectors within these five clusters. They do this for both the seven-county Pittsburgh MSA and the thirteen-county Pittsburgh region.

What I really found interesting was the change over time in the amount of university R&D expenditures, science and engineering graduate students, patents filed and issued, start-up companies, SBIR awards, venture capital, and initial public offerings (IPO) that were presented. Again, it would be great to see all of these metrics for NEO. Any suggestions on where to find this?

And one other interesting thought:

Adjacent Lawrence County (just a few miles from downtown Youngstown on the other side of the OH-PA line) is part of the thirteen-county area that is encompassed by the Pittsburgh Technology Council’s geographical boundaries. Nearby Butler County is included in the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area. As the suburbs of Cleveland and Pittsburgh areas blend with the suburbs of the Youngstown area, their economies are becoming more entwined as well. Maybe there are strategies Youngstown can leverage as a member of NEO and additional strategies that can be developed from the path that the Pittsburgh region is taking.

We are smack in the middle of Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Jumping yard to yard in Youngstown, you see Browns flags and Steelers flags. The radios in our neighborhoods are tuned to both Indians baseball and Penguins hockey. If there is such a tie to both regions, then maybe we can leverage their economic development strengths of both areas to our advantage. Or bigger yet, should both Northeast Ohio and Southwestern Pennsylvania be developing strategies together?

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