Anheuser-Busch Briefing Center, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
1615 H St NW, Washington, D.C.
Registration and Breakfast: 8:00 a.m.-8:30 a.m.
“In a dynamic world, there is no single way to approach an issue, and we must learn from one another in the process of trying to move the debate forward.” – Margaret Spellings, President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
The Business Horizon Quarterly (BHQ) is the Forum for Innovation's signature publication. Its purpose is to share informed insights on emerging issues facing the American business community. By asking questions like “what is growth?” and “what is innovation?”, the Forum aims to inform and to spur debate.
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As Secretary of Education, I visited with students and teachers across America. And now, as Executive Vice President of the National Chamber Foundation, I meet with business leaders and innovators in diverse sectors and communities. These travels offer me a constant reminder of the dynamism that makes America what it is today. Enterprising places are all around us if we know where to look. !is latest edition of the Business Horizon Quarterly takes us on a journey from outer space to the #elds of North Dakota in search of people and places taking the initiative in search of economic growth.
The scope of our nation’s biggest challenge—creating and filling jobs—is largely national. Yet many of the solutions are being pioneered at the state and local level, or even internationally. !ese solutions are helping some communities avoid the worst of the economic downturn and chart a path to prosperity.
For 100 years, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been committed to preserving America’s free enterprise system. We look across the world— and beyond—to find the enterprising places that encourage businesses, entrepreneurs, and innovators to thrive in that environment.
There are voices today depicting America’s economic straits as “the new normal” – low growth and high unemployment that leaves the country technologically and economically static. There are, however, concerted efforts and powerful forces at work throughout the 50 states that belie this all-too-simple conclusion. In fact, it seems clear there are bright and growing areas around the country, offering important lessons for America’s state and business leaders.
It’s one of the lessons that the U.S. Chamber’s National Chamber Foundation (NCF) has been observing with its annual Enterprising States study. Started in 2010, the study has investigated the challenges that states have navigated in fostering the policies, programs and environments that enhance industry and build prosperous communities in the midst of an economic downturn. Enterprising States has also generated a greater need to understand how state and business leaders are driving jobs and growth through new approaches, real solutions, and public-private collaboration.
Where we live and work matters. That’s why we choose to settle down in one place over another. It’s not random to us. When faced with a choice of living anywhere in America’s vast expanse, we increasingly choose to put down roots in our nation’s cities. The greatest of these are what I will call “enterprising cities.” By building on the power of place and the strength of their people, they form the roots of our national prosperity.
Why is this so? In one sense, cities magnify the strengths of humans as social creatures. Cities create value because they break down the barriers of distance between people. We grow more when we exist in community with others. We nurture and exchange ideas with those we live nearby. This lack of distance is what ultimately defines a city. Once people are drawn into close proximity, cities then provide the conduits and institutions for a healthy free market. The fruit of this proximity in turn make us more prosperous.
We all have moments that catch us by surprise. Mine came recently as I stepped off the plane in a place known as the “Magic City.” I’ve been fortunate to visit a lot of places in my life, but few struck me the same way as Minot, North Dakota. Oil and gas discoveries have brought tremendous opportunities to this place. There’s a hunger for opportunity there that many in America long for in their own areas. While our national economy idles, people stream in to Minot from towns and farms for miles around. Yet, I also saw the challenges that come with being a modern-day boomtown. There are far more jobs than there are people to fill them. Essential services are racing to keep up with the pace of change. These are the challenges that come with such tremendous growth, and Minot faces the overwhelming challenge of emerging success.
With a population of about 40,000, Minot, North Dakota is surrounded by a patchwork of farmlands in the northwestern part of the state. It was first deemed “the Magic City” for its fast growth in the early part of the 20th century. Minot is about 15 square miles in all. With brutal winters and a tough terrain, the residents are the kind of hardworking folks that have long fed the country and world but are now pulling oil and gas from the earth to fuel our nation’s future.