Amsterdam, Guangzhou, Norfolk, New York, Seattle, Singapore – and there are more – all have something in common: they are world port cities.
World port cities have an advantage in the effort to reinvent their community for the new economy—an economy vitally dependent on creativity and innovation—that other cities are only now coming to understand.
The race for affordable and accessible high-speed service is top of mind in most cities.
Certainly a city’s physical infrastructure is important. But more, ideas are the new wealth, not the old skills typically associated with manufacturing or service provision.
Whatever a city has in the way of assets like a world class port, great weather or a wired infrastructure-highways of the information economy-communities need smart people with good ideas… and sadly, that dilemma haunts cities even more today as the concept has obviously grown in essentiality and importance in large part, because of the “Cloud,” “Big Data“, and what we now are calling “The Internet of Everything“ (IoE), where everything is connected to everything else.
In the new economy, it is ideas that matter most. This multicultural, almost zero tolerance is what allows people to work together, collaborate and generate the new ideas, the technology of a very different global economy.
Some years ago Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class, said that for a city to attract the creative class and be a creative and innovative community, it must possess “the three ‘T’s”: Talent (a highly talented/educated/skilled population), Tolerance (a diverse community, that has a ‘live and let live’ ethos), and Technology (the technological infrastructure necessary to fuel an entrepreneurial culture).
Tolerance, one of the three T’s, is not well understood.
What Florida, other urban planners and economists are saying is that if you want to succeed in the new economy, it’s not a person’s race, creed or color, religious belief, sex or gender or language that is important as their ideas. It is their ideas that count most in the new age of innovation.
Port cities are more tolerant, mostly because ports tend to attract or nurture international people, people with fewer prejudices than the inner cites, communities that may not have a diverse mix of people living there.
Certainly being next to another country, on the border, is an advantage.
According to an OECD report on The Competitiveness of Global Ports, ports facilitate international trade and energize the flow of goods and services around the world. Not surprisingly, “ports are also spatial clusters for innovation, research and development.”
Inherently, they seem to be places that embrace a “live and let live” philosophy. People are not as concerned with another person’s race, creed or color, religious belief, sex or gender or language.
One solution put forth by Government Technology Magazine is that “Cities Must Invest in the ‘Smart Jobs’ Workforce.” When Wichita Kansas was having trouble-finding workers to fill the region’s aerospace jobs, “with the latest skills,” they reported. “local leaders listened. The result was a partnership of area governments, colleges and businesses that led to the birth of the National Center for Aviation Training.”
As cities start filling the “Internet of Everything” (IoE) jobs, they too must join with the universities, high schools and training centers to fill the region’s demand for a workforce with the right skills. This should give them the workforce they and other organizations need in the new innovation economy.
There is much to do to change the way we educate our young people for this brave new world; But the educational system, K-12 and the Universities, must start to provide young people with the new skills they will need to succeed and which the new workplace badly needs.
There is much we must do to reinvent our communities for the creative and innovative economy. At present, in most cities, there is a void in leadership.
Ports can help fill that void.
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