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Economic Development is . . . (increasing the flow) of capital through the community and reducing its leakage.

A High Tech Story

A guy walks into a bar and sits down.  He starts dialing numbers…like a telephone… on his hand, then talking into his hand.  The bartender walks over and tells him this is a very tough neighborhood and he doesn’t need any trouble here caused by any squirrely behavior.

The guy says, “You don’t understand.  I’m very hi-tech.  I had a phone installed in my hand because I was tired of carrying the cellular.” The bartender says, “Yeah? Prove it.” The guy dials up a number and hands his hand to the bartender. The bartender talks into the hand and carries on a conversation.

“That’s incredible”, says the bartender, “I would never have believed it!” “Yeah,” said the guy, “I can keep in touch with my broker, my wife, you name it.  By the way, where is the men’s room?”  The bartender directs him to the men’s room.

The guy goes in and 5, 10, 20 minutes go by and he doesn’t return. Fearing the worst given the neighborhood, the bartender goes into the men’s room.  There is Mr. High Tech standing against the wall with both hands holding a roll of toilet paper. “Oh my goodness!” said the bartender. “Did they rob you? Are you bleeding?”

The guy turns to him and says: “No, I’m fine…I’m just waiting for a fax.”

Mr. High Tech’s story is a funny illustration of what could happen if we take new technologies to the extreme. In reality, I believe a much bigger problem is that we do not have a system in our country that promotes enough of the new innovations being developed.

I recently read a book by one of the past presidential candidates Newt Gingrich (and before you ask or assume – no I am not endorsing his politics – just this idea). His book was titled Breakouts. Breakouts are Gingrich’s term for new technologies and methods that allow for a radical change in the way we presently do things (past Breakouts include steam power, the electric light, the automobile, flight, computers, and medical advances).

I believe in the premise of his book – in order to Breakout of our current economic decline it will require a vision of new growth. After all, go back to the beginning of our country and look at how we rose to greatness – we did it by leading the world in innovation. Our country was founded on the freedoms that allowed the innovators to innovate. This is the “can do attitude” that has built our country into a great nation. Regardless of what your political leanings – we all need to realize that the real answer to our problems is not greater dependency, but letting people freely build, grow, trade, and innovate.

The book proposes an exciting vision of the future – here is a quote: “America is on the cusp of a renaissance, a new birth of technological and scientific innovation that will dramatically transform the prosperity and quality of life of every American.  Our biggest enemy? Special interest groups, powerful lobbyists, and government bureaucrats who are determined to squash, control, or prevent these innovations. American entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers, and scientists are abundantly creative and productive. We just need to eliminate the obstructionists and their agendas.”

The Innovations Gingrich encourages us to promote are not as distant as we might think. Especially if we get off the couch and go work to make them into reality! But Heath, what can I do here in Tama County? Glad you asked….. here’s where you can start – on Nov 19th at 5:30 pm is our next PITCH & BUILD COMPETITION. It is energizing to hear new ideas from people about their desire to see a brighter, stronger economic future in Tama County. Come and do your part. And don’t worry, I promise no one will try and embed a phone into your hand.


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