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

Suggestion Box

A young ventriloquist puts on a show in a small rural Iowa town. With his dummy on his knee, he starts going through his usual dumb blonde jokes.

Suddenly, a blonde woman from the audience stands on her chair and starts shouting, “I’ve heard enough of your stupid blonde jokes. What makes you think you can stereotype blonde women that way? What does the color of a woman’s hair have to do with her worth as a human being? It’s men like you who keep women like me from being respected at work and in the community, and from reaching our full potential as people. Its people like you that make others think that all blondes are dumb. You and your kind continue to perpetuate discrimination against not only blondes but all women. And you do this disgracefully disguised as humor!”

The young ventriloquist, visibly embarrassed, begins to apologize, and the blonde interrupts yelling, “You stay out of this, sir. I’m talking to that little idiot on your lap.”

It was Owen Laughlin who once said “Money never starts an idea.  It is always the idea that starts the money”. You know, when you stop and think it is unfortunate that today we often think of innovation only in terms of new technologies. We fail to recognize that innovation can happen everywhere (especially within a business).

For years, the suggestion box was little more than an office gag—a handy receptacle for notes telling the boss to kindly drop dead. But in U.S. industry, employee suggestions are no longer a joking matter; the old suggestion box has gone social: Companies are finding that ideas come from the interplay and free exchange between employees. So many are creating opportunities for employees to get together and brainstorm. The Japanese have long done this informally with their after-work get togethers (though sometimes those involve excessive drinking). It doesn’t really seem to matter how it’s done, as long as it’s done together. New ideas are coming from playfulness and humor, so if fun is not a dirty word at your business, you’ll hear a lot more ideas every day.

Economic growth will always require expanded innovation. 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. Whether you are an owner or an employee, we all need to be allowed to freely think, build, and innovate.

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