Tag Archives: innovation

Innovation Clusters of the Rust Belt

With the recently celebrated opening of the nation’s first satellite office of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Detroit, I thought it might be fun to explore which metropolitan regions in the Rust Best are hotspots for new innovation as measured by the number of patents issued. The data provided is cumulative for the five year period of 2006 through 2010.

For Detroit and Buffalo, I also included patent data for adjacent areas in Ontario since they are a part of the metropolitan region. Needless to say, I was rather thrilled to find out which of the metropolitan regions came in first place (even without Windsor’s 376 American patents included). Buffalo’s ranking moved up two spots on the list either with the inclusion of 189 American patents from Niagara Falls and St. Catharines, Ontario.

Min 250 patents (or 50/year) between 2006-2010

  1. Detroit-Ann Arbor-Windsor, MI-ON  – 13,121
  2. Chicago-Naperville-Kenosha, IL-IN-WI – 12,526
  3. Twin Cities Region, MN-WI – 11,554
  4. Philadelphia-Trenton-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE – 10,345
  5. Rochester, NY – 5,227
  6. Cleveland-Akron-Canton, OH – 4,540
  7. Cincinnati-Hamilton-Wilmington, OH-KY-IN – 3,446
  8. Baltimore, MD – 2,950
  9. Pittsburgh, PA – 2,968
  10. Albany-Glens Falls, NY – 2,952
  11. St. Louis, MO-IL – 2,750
  12. Milwaukee-Racine, WI – 2,551
  13. Indianapolis-Anderson-Columbus, IN  – 2,423
  14. Worcester, MA – 2,037
  15. Providence-Fall River, RI-MA – 1,884
  16. Madison-Beaver Dam, WI  – 1,864
  17. Rochester, MN – 1,789
  18. Columbus-Newark-Lancaster, OH – 1,612
  19. Allentown-Bethlehem, PA-NJ – 1,404
  20. Grand Rapids-Holland-Muskegon, MI – 1,385
  21. Des Moines-Ames, IA  – 1,351
  22. Buffalo-Niagara Falls-St. Catharines, NY-ON – 1,268
  23. Lake Winnebego (Appleton-Oshkosh-Fond du Lac), WI – 1,187
  24. Dayton-Springfield, OH – 1,079
  25. Fort Wayne-Warsaw-Van Wert,  IN-OH – 894
  26. Cedar Rapids-Iowa City, IA – 881
  27. Peoria-Canton, IL – 872
  28. St. Joseph Valley (South Bend-Elkhart-Niles), IN-MI – 800
  29. Syracuse, NY – 796
  30. Lafayette-Kokomo, IN – 723
  31. Binghamton-Oneonta, NY-PA – 720
  32. Rock Valley, IL-WI – 671
  33. Harrisburg-Gettysburg, PA – 663
  34. Elmira-Corning-Sayre, NY-PA – 644
  35. Toledo- Findlay-Fremont, OH – 638
  36. Springfield, MA – 555
  37. Kalamazoo Valley, MI – 550
  38. Champaign-Urbana, IL – 523
  39. Lancaster, PA – 509
  40. Ithaca-Cortland, NY – 503
  41. Lansing-Jackson, MI – 490
  42. Saginaw Bay, MI – 448
  43. York, PA – 428
  44. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Poconos, PA  – 347
  45. Youngstown-Warren-Salem, OH-PA – 342
  46. Quad Cities, IA-IL – 309
  47. Erie, PA – 306
  48. Reading-Pottsville, PA – 301
  49. Evansville, IN-KY-IL – 293
  50. State College-Lewistown, PA – 258

– Rick Brown

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Brookings: Great Lakes Metros Should Boost Exports


The folks at Brookings released a report Monday on the importance of exports to the economies of Great Lakes cities.

Among the findings:

– Exports support 1.95 million jobs in Great Lakes metros

– Cities in this region have some of the highest volumes (dollar-wise) of exports and the greatest reliance on exports. Out of the nation’s top 100 metro areas, Chicago ranks third and Detroit ranks ninth in total dollar volumes of exports. Minneapolis, St. Louis, and Indianapolis all rank in the top 20, the study states.

How does your city compare?

“Now is a particularly critical time for Great Lakes areas to be smart about their export strategies,” the report’s authors write.

“There is new national attention to increasing the volume of US exports.  In his 2010 State of the Union Address, President Obama called for a doubling of US exports in the next five years.  Administration officials have also cited greater exports as a way to bolster the condition of the hard-hit manufacturing communities in the US.”

It’s part of a larger Brookings report on how the nation’s cities can lead export growth.

What conclusions should we draw?

“The metropolitan areas of the Great Lakes region are among the most globally engaged metros in the country,” says the report.

“They produce goods and offer services that are in demand around the world, particularly in rapidly emerging markets like Brazil, India, and China.  A national effort to double exports in the next fi ve years holds great promise for these metros that are already fairly export-oriented.  But this opportunity may be squandered if Great Lakes metros do not focus intensely on innovation, both in terms of expanding the range of products and services that they offer and in their specific product and service lines.  A legacy of success in exports does not guarantee future dominance, a lesson that Great Lakes metros should have learned through rough experience.”

What do you think?


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From Colorado to Michigan

Editor’s note: This piece was contributed by Ivy Hughes, a Lansing, Mich.- based journalist. Read more about her on our contributors page. -KG

Five years ago my husband and I moved from Colorado to Michigan — by choice — for a job in the mortgage industry. We knew we were taking a huge risk, but at the time we had no idea we were venturing into a storm of opportunity we would have missed had we stayed in an economically thriving state.

Michigan is the underdog the media loves and the public, for varying reasons, hates. But how can a state most distinguished by its unemployment rate change course if its residents accuse new people, such as my husband and myself, and new ideas, of unforgivable naivety? Nearly every time I tell someone about my decision to swap states, they say, with unparalleled indignation and hopelessness: “Why would you ever move to Michigan?”

Moving to a state written off by everyone, including its residents, is wearing. My excitement about the move quickly dissipated and I feel into a rut of complaint and disaffection. But then I saw what many Michiganders no longer have the capacity or the desire to acknowledge: a tremendous undercurrent of energy. Outside of government, outside of the state’s old and dying entitlement structures lies a phenomenal strength in innovation and entrepreneurship.

During the last five years three technology incubators opened within five miles of my house; one of the most advanced superconducting cyclotron facilities in the world invested $550 million in Michigan State University (MSU); and Lansing became home to the world’s first building project to achieve double platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) designation. That’s to say nothing of the region’s existing successes, none of which are tied to the auto industry. Neogen, a publicly traded company that develops food safety and animal products, that produces more than $50 million in goods in Lansing every year, continues to add employees and increase both its regional and international presence. Liquid Web, a web hosting provider started years ago by a 17-year-old entrepreneur, made Inc. magazine’s 5,000 fastest growing companies in 2007 and recently opened a 90,000 square foot cloud computing center in Delta Township.

Lansing residents are well aware of these larger successes, but hundreds of small business owners from varying industries are fervently kicking down Michigan’s dilapidated wall of self-pity with successes of their own. Not one of these entrepreneurial endeavors is tied to the auto industry. Every single one of them is wrapped tightly in determination and held together by a sense of responsibility to create something cataclysmically transformative for Michigan. All of these ventures were started by entrepreneurs who saw potential in nothingness.

Some tag this energy Young Smart Global, a loose moniker that’s provided a networking resource for some of Lansing’s most innovative thinkers, but it’s more than a label, it’s a movement.

In less than a year, this movement has helped launch the Hatch, which provides enterprising MSU students incubation space and access to established local talent. Three Hatch graduates recently launched Spartanicity, a company that delivers food, books and other goods to dorm rooms. These same entrepreneurs also created Spartan Solutions, a non-profit offering $1,000 tuition scholarships and $500 books scholarships to college and university students throughout the state. This energy has also created mentorship programs, connecting students to local entrepreneurs and their networks, an invaluable resource for those looking to launch after graduation.

So what?

Because the students are connecting with entrepreneurs, they’re graduating and starting businesses HERE instead of in Colorado, California or New York and in turn, these young entrepreneurs are revitalizing the old ones, shooting a cocktail of desire, rejuvenation and hunger into successful veins unconsciously nearing collapse. They’re changing minds.

I was excited to move to Michigan, but that feeling quickly drained. Not because the mortgage industry collapsed — we were surprising calm when it happened — but because the people here made me feel as if I’d moved to the last place on earth, the one scorpions flick their tails upon.

At first we failed. We started and abandoned business ventures that didn’t work. After having a thriving career in Colorado, I worked as a waitress at a sports bar where I played the roll of old, objectified hag (I was in my early 20s). My husband was unemployed for several months. We failed again and again and so has Michigan. But it’s not that we have failed; it’s what we’ve done with those failures. I own a company and have more opportunities, I believe, than I would have had in Colorado. There’s less of a market to penetrate and in an environment where journalism jobs are as contagious as polio, I’m a successful working freelance journalist. My husband has created a niche within his own industry that he likely wouldn’t have been able to create in Colorado.

We created these opportunities ourselves and other young, enterprising people are doing the same.

Yeah, failure sucks. Michigan winters suck. Coming from Colorado, the lack of sunshine here is debilitating. It’s challenging, but so is life.

My question to Michigan natives is, “If you hate this state so much, why don’t you leave? And if you stay, why wait for a door to open when you have the opportunity to build the house?”

-Ivy Hughes

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Innovation and the Rust Belt

A favorite Erie-focused blog of mine, Global Erie, had a post last week about the importance of encouraging innovation.

Blogger Peter Panepento isn’t the first person to make this observation about our region. Several years ago, The (Toledo) Blade wrote a three-part series, Business As Usual, that built on the work of two Cleveland-based Federal Reserve economists that linked a state’s economy to patents per-capita. In other words- the more creativity and innovation, the better off a state will be.

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