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Cities Investing in Innovation

Cities across America are collaborating with the private sector to support entrepreneurship and create jobs.

How can government and business work together to create jobs? That was the topic in Durham, North Carolina this week, where President Obama met with the Jobs Competitiveness Council to discuss practical ways that government and business can partner to foster growth and encourage job creation.  And they aren’t the only ones having this discussion. Cities all over America are seeing the positive economic results of investing in business innovation.

Boston Mayor Tom Menino explains the importance of government and the private sector working together: “Countries and the cities that best support collaboration will win the future.  The places that best cultivate innovation will create more jobs, grow faster, and foster path-breaking new products and services that improve the well-being of people around the world.”

In Pittsburgh and Boston, city leaders have created business innovation districts to help foster new and expanding businesses:

By strategically redeveloping a vacant factory in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty business district, the city attracted a large employer that expanded its staff in Pittsburgh from a handful of employees to nearly 200. This development spurred the emergence of new small businesses and jobs, from the opening of new coffee shops, retail establishments, and restaurants.

In Boston, Mayor Menino launched the Boston Innovation District, a growing home to startup, research-based, and other innovation companies. The City of Boston has worked to attract a cluster of innovative companies, to build live/work housing for their employees, and to support a social infrastructure that builds connections between people, businesses, sectors, and cities. Since January 2010, 50 new companies have opened in Boston’s Innovation District with almost 2,000 new jobs.

Out West, the City of San Jose is helping streamline government reviews to help businesses break ground:

San Jose, California is reducing the hurdles to business development by assembling a team from City Planning, Building, Public Works, and Fire Departments in one room at the same time to meet with a developer’s team of engineers and architects to address all development review issues in a single expedited review process with a goal of issuing permits in hours, not weeks or months.

And in the Southwest, Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell is working with the academic and business communities to strategically encourage innovation and invention:

Over the last seven years, the City of Austin has partnered with regional universities including The University of Texas at Austin and Austin Community College and the regional business community on an economic development partnership strategy and execution program dubbed “Opportunity Austin” that targets new business recruitment, regional business retention and expansion, and new company formation. Opportunity Austin has brought over a hundred new businesses and thousands of jobs to the area.

We want to hear how your city, town or county is encouraging investment in innovation. Send us your stories.