At last week’s IN2LEX meeting we were discussing how communities like Austin and Boulder gained the regard they have as vibrant, creative, innovation-hospitable communities. I’ll claim it was not a grand plan but rather heavy doses of successful start-ups and it is futile to try to emulate these communities without the runaway successful companies that makes a community fertile for growth.
Dell is the second largest employer in Austin with over 17,000 employees (The State of Texas is the largest employer in the area - source). IBM and Motorola spinout Freescale Semiconductor are the other non-government/healthcare companies making up the top ten employers. Boulder’s largest private employer is IBM with Sun Microsystems, Level 3 Communications, and Seagate falling in the top ten.
The success of Dell set the stage for the growth of SXSW and Austin’s “Keep It Weird” theme. Keeping Austin weird is only “cool” because they have had several ultra-successful tech companies in the region that created an environment hospitable to growth. I’ll claim we probably wouldn’t be talking about Austin if Michael Dell hadn’t launched Dell Computers out of his dorm room 26 years ago.
I’ll challenge you to name a community you’d like to emulate that isn’t built on a modern, successful private employer or employers. Better to concentrate on building successful companies (employers) than to look at the “cool” things that become emblematic of a community and yearn to emulate that aspect. Chic follows runaway entrepreneurial successes.
Which companies are going to breakout in your region and help create the environment needed to grow a community that everyone wants to emulate? What are you doing to help them?