Connecting People in the RNR – The New Manufacturing

Handshake 2.0 brings you edition #42 of Connecting People in the RNR with Stuart Mease.

"RNR" refers to the Roanoke and New River Valleys of Virginia.

Connecting People in the RNR
a video show by Stuart Mease for Handshake 2.0


The opinions expressed by Stuart Mease or by those he interviews are solely their own.  They are not necessarily shared by Handshake 2.0 or its clients, sponsors, or advertisers, or by Stuart Mease's employer.

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Stuart Mease is Recruiting Manager for Rackspace Email and Apps which sponsored the Rackspace Tech Showcase on Handshake 2.0.

Stuart writes the blog Connecting People.  You can connect with Stuart in myriad ways both off-line and online, including on Twitter @stuartmease.  Stuart Mease is an organizer of the Roanoke Creative Communities Leadership Project (CCLP) in Virginia.  You can follow the program on Twitter @roanokecreative. Stuart Mease was a finalist for the NCTC NewVa Leadership Award 2009.  

We consider Stuart Mease a thought leader and are honored he shares his views with Handshake 2.0.

Connecting People in the RNR – Blue Ridge PBS JobQuest

Handshake 2.0 brings you edition #41 of Connecting People in the RNR with Stuart Mease.

Stuart Mease inteviews Julie Newman of the Blue Ridge PBS JobQuest

"RNR" refers to the Roanoke and New River Valleys of Virginia.

Connecting People in the RNR
a video show by Stuart Mease for Handshake 2.0


The opinions expressed by Stuart Mease or by those he interviews are solely their own.  They are not necessarily shared by Handshake 2.0 or its clients, sponsors, or advertisers, or by Stuart Mease's employer.

***

Stuart Mease is Recruiting Manager for Rackspace Email and Apps which sponsored the Rackspace Tech Showcase on Handshake 2.0.

Stuart writes the blog Connecting People.  You can connect with Stuart in myriad ways both off-line and online, including on Twitter @stuartmease.  Stuart Mease is an organizer of the Roanoke Creative Communities Leadership Project (CCLP) in Virginia.  You can follow the program on Twitter @roanokecreative. Stuart Mease was a finalist for the NCTC NewVa Leadership Award 2009.  

We consider Stuart Mease a thought leader and are honored he shares his views with Handshake 2.0.

Regional Economy, Developed

On Handshake 2.0? Let's see... One of the reasons I started Handshake Media, Incorporated, a digital public relations agency and the parent company of Handshake 2.0, was to participate in regional and global economic development.  A company’s unknown products or services are less likely to sell than their known ones.  My company’s efforts on behalf of a company gain it publicity.  The company gets noticed and known online. 

My premise remains that the greatest inhibitor to doing business is risk, that trust decreases risk, and that trust is increased by knowing the people with whom we do business.  Shaking hands in-person - Handshake 1.0s – with over 6 billion on the planet is impossible.  Hence Handshake 2.0 and its focus on people, companies, and how to know and be known online.  Hence “It’s still who you know.” 

“I’m thinking of doing business with that company.  Let’s see if it's on Handshake 2.0.”

Knowing and being known on Handshake 2.0 increases trust, which decreases risk, which increases the likelihood of handshakes on deals.

Thus, businesses get more deals, more revenue, create jobs, hire people, pay wages.  Those wages are spent in the local and global economy.

Regional economy, developed.

That is my hope and, to that hope, I am giving my very best effort.

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In Handshake 2.0's Building a Region series on rural regional economic development, are we asking the right questions?  What are better questions?  What are the answers to those better questions?  We welcome guests posts and comments.  With a guest post or an idea for one, please email us at [email protected].

Regional Economic Development – More People Better Off Today Than Yesterday

For its series on regional economic development, Building a Region, Handshake 2.0 asked:

"To foster its regional economic development, what are the three most important traits a rural region needs to develop in order to have a chance at attracting a high-tech Global 1000 company – or two or three – to establish headquarters, a division, a product development laboratory, or a research facility in its locale?"

Joe W. Meredith, Ph.D., President of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, Inc. Joe W. Meredith, Ph.D., President of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, Inc. in Blacksburg, Virginia replied:

  1. A sufficient talent pool to meet the needs of a large company,
  2. a lower total cost of business than where they currently are,
  3. facilities that enable them to be more productive at a lower cost.

Regional economic development means simply that more people are better off today than yesterday.

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Are we asking the right questions?  What are better questions?  What are answers to those better questions?  We welcome guests posts and comments.  With a guest post or an idea for one, please email us at [email protected].

The Really Interesting Conversations in the Technology Sector

Having met Ryan Hagan, Software Development Manager, Email & Apps, Rackspace Hosting, at a NewVa Corridor Technology Council, NCTC meeting, I emailed him this question:

Why would an IT professional or "knowledge worker" move to Roanoke, Virginia or Blacksburg, Virginia to live and work?
 
The context is that I'm very interested in regional economic development, we have a burgeoning technology economy, and we don't have enough qualified people to fill the positions.  We've got a "knowledge worker" shortage.
 
Since most people spend most of their time at work, the "where" seems to be less important than the work.  Amenities and incentives – bars, restaurants, culture, outdoor rec – most places have something or enough to do.  Roanoke does and Blacksburg does.
 
What, then, does a “knowledge worker” – someone in IT, engineering, biotech, physics – want from work?
 
I understand that one concern is multiple opportunities, i.e. if the gig at this place doesn't work out, I can move to another local gig, and not have to uproot myself and my family to move elsewhere.
 
The fundamental principle of sales is "Find the pain."  So if part of the question – and pain – is not, "What would make them come?"but "What would make them fear coming?", what conditions could exist or be created in a region to ease that fear?

With permission to quote him, Ryan Hagan replied:

Our recruiting efforts fall into two categories.  Sometimes we need students from Virginia Tech or other top notch Computer Science programs, and sometimes we need candidates with more real-world work experience.  The younger people usually want to know what there is to do in Blacksburg.  The more experienced people want to know what the local job market is like in case they lose their job with us for some reason.

We have a super hard time bringing the really experienced people here because of the lack of other options.  Honestly, though, we've gotten some great people lately with some good experience because they had spouses that were coming to work for Virginia Tech or had other family in the area.  Unfortunately, we can't rely on that for all the people we want / need.

Actually, our biggest problem right now is one of attrition.  We've got quite a few of our developers, some of the best in the company, that are wanting to leave Blacksburg.  This actually might be related to the lack of other, large technology companies in the area. 

It's the lack of community that comes with a large collection of technologists that people are missing here.  The really interesting conversations in the technology sector just aren't being had here, because there aren't more than one or two people who are interested in the latest and greatest, up and coming trends.  As someone who has run several different user groups in this area, I can attest to how hard it is to keep a group running with so few potential members.

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Rackspace is a client of Handshake 2.0 and sponsors the Rackspace Tech Showcase.

"The Really Interesting Conversations in the Technology Sector" is part of Handshake 2.0's series on regional economic development, Building a Region.

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In our Building a Region series, are we asking the right questions?  What are better questions?  What are the answers to those better questions?  We welcome guests posts and comments.  With a guest post or an idea for one, please email us at [email protected].

Envisioning Regional Economic Development – A View from Premier Transfer and Storage

For its series on regional economic development, Building a Region, Handshake 2.0 asked:

"In seeking to define the what and how of a regional social media initiative and best practices for the use of social media for regional economic development…to foster its regional economic development, what [does]…a rural region need in order to have a chance at attracting a high-tech Global 1000 company – or two or three – to establish headquarters, a division, a product development laboratory, or a research facility in its locale?"

Jaime Clark, Premier Transfer and Storage, envisions regional economic development.

Jaime Clark, Marketing Director of Premier Transfer and Storage, replied:

Imagine a Global 1000 company considering the Roanoke and New River Valleys of Virginia – the RNR - as a location to establish a division, headquarters, etc. (or perhaps a company that we are trying to woo into coming here).  The word spreads in the community. 

A healthy portion of the community is involved in social  media and understands the importance of economic development in our area and why it matters to them.  The chatter begins online with tweets, blog posts, etc., encouraging and excitedly expressing the hope that this company will come to the RNR.  If this Global 1000 company monitors these types of communications (which I expect they would) this could definitely have an impact on the company’s decision as it would truly feel that the entire community was behind them and ready to support them.

***

In our Building a Region series, are we asking the right questions?  What are better questions?  What are the answers to those better questions?  We welcome guests posts and comments.  With a guest post or an idea for one, please email us at [email protected].

What Does High-Tech Want?

One of the challenges a rural locale faces in developing a local technology industry is attracting and retaining talent – sometimes termed knowledge workers - information technology professionals, software developers, and experts in engineering and science, such as biotechnology and physics. 

For its series on regional economic development, Building a Region, Handshake 2.0 asked:

"What do 'knowledge workers' want from where they work and live?"

An official of a leading software company, who asked to remain anonymous, replied:

I think that for knowledge workers, the role one plays has a significant effect on the desire to be attached to a particular office location. The vast majority of the developers who work for my organization work remotely. They are largely individual contributors, they do not directly interact with customers, and their success in the business is measured by their output and deliverables, so, for all practical purposes, their participation in the business as individuals is secondary: they can go be wherever they want, turn in their code, and not worry about talking to anyone. For junior people especially, this is appealing: live in a hip place, or in a great natural environment, or wherever strikes your fancy personally, escape the office politics, and just write good code.
 
For those whose major focus is customers (consultants, sales reps, etc.), they want to live where their customers do, to minimize travel. Hence, the best thing a community can have is a big account: a Boeing or a Toyota or a UPS or other major firm that requires a lot of services and attention, so that you can spend your time working with one big customer rather than running all around trying to meet the needs of many smaller customers.
 
For people in my role, whose primary responsibilities relate to advising others, the most important thing I can get from a community is a concentration of like-minded people in similar roles. Wherever my management or my peers live, I want to live, and the main thing that a location can provide me is a concentration of people in similar roles, whether in my company or in partner firms. Richard Florida explores some of this clustering phenomenon in his various books (Cities and the Creative Class, etc.)

Essentially, for knowledge workers whose primary economic value is in their interaction with other people, the presence of those other people becomes the determining factor of whether a community is a good place to work. So, the presence of a company headquarters, which has a large concentration of employees with similar roles, weighs heavily in choosing a city to reside in. And then you get the virtuous circle of multiple companies with similar strengths clustering together to compete for scarce talent that was already attracted by their predecessors, hence Boston gets lots of new biotech startups because Genentech is already there, and the new companies are hoping to poach talent from the more established firm.
 
I’m not sure there’s a thing in a city that attracts knowledge workers, rather, there is a sort of critical mass / gravitational attraction process that causes certain types of workers to cluster around each other.

***

In our Building a Region series, are we asking the right questions?  What are better questions?  What are the answers to those better questions?  We welcome guests posts and comments.  With a guest post or an idea for one, please email us at [email protected].

Economic Development Offers Three Choices

To the Help a Reporter (HARO) query service, Handshake 2.0 posted this question in anticipation of its Building a Region series:

"To foster its regional economic development, what are the three most important traits a rural region needs to develop in order to have a chance at attracting a high-tech Global 1000 company – or two or three – to establish headquarters, a division, a product development laboratory, or a research facility in its locale?"

John Sechrest, Economic Development Director for the Corvallis Benton Chamber Coalition, Oregon, replied:

Corvallis Business Ecosystem, Corvallis Benton Chamber Coalition, Oregon

In Economic Development, there are three choices:

  1. Move a company to your area,
  2. grow the companies you have, or
  3. start new companies.

With the 25,000 Economic development agencies all chasing a much smaller number of opportunities, it makes sense to focus on the start and grow side of the equation instead of recruitment.

Economic Gardening is one of the names for this process of focusing on making existing companies more effective and growing new companies into the mix. Chris Gibbons of Littleton, Colorado has done significant work in Economic Gardening over the last twenty years.

The most effective creator of new jobs is to nurture companies that are in size between 10 and 50 people. They are the historical engines that have created new growth in an industry or a region.

Where we can leverage R+D and our university system to create innovative new opportunities, we can work with Global 1000 companies to make progress. However, it does not require the participation of the Global 1000 companies to make that progress.

Spending time creating a foundation to the local economy by growing local capacity for value creation has proven a worthwhile strategy.

Relying on incentives to attract Global 1000 companies who do not have a long term vested interest in the local community in the long run does not provide any kind of economic foundation. When you are able to create a critical mass of interconnected companies who create a local synergy, then you have a foundation for a stable local economic cluster.

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In our Building a Region series, are we asking the right questions?  What are better questions?  What are the answers to those better questions?  We welcome guests posts and comments.  With a guest post or an idea for one, please email us at [email protected].

Connecting People in the RNR – Who Creates Jobs?

Handshake 2.0 brings you edition #39 of Connecting People in the RNR with Stuart Mease.

Stuart Mease shares a video version of Who's willing to do what it takes?, a guest column he wrote for The Roanoke Times.

"RNR" refers to the Roanoke and New River Valleys of Virginia.

Connecting People in the RNR
a video show by Stuart Mease for Handshake 2.0


The opinions expressed by Stuart Mease or by those he interviews are solely their own.  They are not necessarily shared by Handshake 2.0 or its clients, sponsors, or advertisers, or by Stuart Mease's employer.

***

Stuart Mease is Recruiting Manager for Rackspace Email and Apps which sponsors the Rackspace Tech Showcase on Handshake 2.0.

Stuart writes the blog Connecting People.  You can connect with Stuart in myriad ways both off-line and online, including on Twitter @stuartmease.  Stuart Mease is an organizer of the Roanoke Creative Communities Leadership Project (CCLP) in Virginia.  You can follow the program on Twitter @roanokecreative. Stuart Mease was a finalist for the NCTC NewVa Leadership Award 2009.  

We consider Stuart Mease a thought leader and are honored he shares his views with Handshake 2.0.

Connecting People in the RNR – Where to Network

Handshake 2.0 brings you edition #38 of Connecting People in the RNR with Stuart Mease.

Where to network in the New River Valley and Roanoke Valley – the RNR – of Virginia?  Stuart Mease answers the question and explains his choices:  Virginia Tech, Carilion, NewVa Corridor Technology Council, NCTC.

Mease mentions an upcoming opportunity to network at the NewVa Corridor Technology Council's Demo Day & Tech Expo.

Connecting People in the RNR
a video show by Stuart Mease for Handshake 2.0

 


The opinions expressed by Stuart Mease or by those he interviews are solely their own.  They are not necessarily shared by Handshake 2.0 or its clients, sponsors, or advertisers, or by Stuart Mease's employer.

***

Stuart Mease is Recruiting Manager for Rackspace Email and Apps which sponsors the Rackspace Tech Showcase on Handshake 2.0.

Stuart writes the blog Connecting People.  You can connect with Stuart in myriad ways both off-line and online, including on Twitter @stuartmease.  Stuart Mease is an organizer of the Roanoke Creative Communities Leadership Project (CCLP) in Virginia.  You can follow the program on Twitter @roanokecreative. Stuart Mease was a finalist for the NCTC NewVa Leadership Award 2009.  

We consider Stuart Mease a thought leader and are honored he shares his views with Handshake 2.0.