The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University has selected the Central Florida Development Council’s (CFDC) innovative regional industry cluster study performed by SRI International as one of its national Bright Ideas awards. In its inaugural year, Bright Ideas is designed to recognize and share creative government initiatives throughout the country with interested public sector, nonprofit and academic communities.
The Bright Ideas program cited the industry cluster study as an example of innovation as it was the first of its kind to be completed in the state employing regionalism and cross-border collaboration as its prime tenets. The CFDC requested that SRI International tap into the strengths, trends and special demographics sets of three over-lapping regional planning organizations to design its study for Polk County. In providing its strategy, SRI International incorporated data from two contiguous, smaller population counties (Hardee and Highlands) and two nearby metro counties, Hillsborough (Tampa) and Orange (Orlando).
The Polk County regional model for analysis has already drawn the attention of other economic development and planning organizations shaping part of Florida’s future. The Tampa Regional Planning Council and the eight-county Tampa Bay Partnership used the Polk County analysis as their roadmap for defining a new regional study for West-Central Florida and the Urban Design Studio at the University of Pennsylvania employed the study as the cornerstone for its comprehensive study reviewing social, economic, transportation and environmental factors along the Interstate 4 corridor and offering insight on how the Super Region should continue to grow.
The regional industry cluster analysis is used by the CFDC’s Economic Development Group to drive its business recruitment marketing plan and has been a catalyst for new programs designed to assist existing small businesses expand and as a blueprint for entrepreneurs seeking to start a high tech company.
Using the Framework for a Technology Business Incubator in Polk County component of the study as its guide, the University of South Florida Polytechnic opened two, off-campus Blue Sky incubators in the downtowns of Winter Haven and Lakeland to serve start-up businesses and to assist second stage companies desiring to accelerate their growth.
“We are extremely honored that Harvard University has recognized our SRI International industry cluster study as being a creative and effective blueprint for forward thinking economic development and for other communities to emulate,” said Rodney Carson, the CFDC’s Director of Economic Development. “Our regional study will guide future investments and innovations throughout our super region and the identified regional industry clusters represent a powerful source of productivity and the potential generation of numerous quality jobs in a time of economic challenges.”
Carson said in determining its short list of six key industry clusters to be targeted for future development in Polk County, SRI International analyzed key trends in four surrounding counties to expose extended product chains, shared labor pools, trade flows, business networks and opportunities for cross-breeding technologies from different sectors.
“We are also excited that two of our leading education partners – University of South Florida Polytechnic and Polk State College – are employing the study to shape curriculum and research programs at their high-tech campuses in our community,” he said.
An executive summary and the full study may be found on the CFDC’s website and the CFDC’s award entry synopsis of the study will soon be highlighted on the Ash Center’s Government Innovators Network (GIN) portal.
This year’s cohort of Bright Ideas was chosen by a team of expert evaluators made up of academics, practitioners, and former public servants. Selected from a pool of nearly 600 applicants including smaller-scale pilots, 2010 Bright Ideas address a range of pressing issues including poverty reduction, environmental conservation, and emergency management.
The 2010 Bright Ideas will be showcased on the Center’s Government Innovators Network, an online marketplace of ideas and examples of government innovation for policymakers and practitioners. The inaugural group of Bright Ideas will serve as a cornerstone of a new online community where innovative ideas are proposed, shared, and disseminated. The Ash Center also envisions that these Bright Ideas have the potential to become future Innovations in American Government winners.
Bright Ideas is an initiative of the Ash Center’s Innovations in Government Program, which spotlights exemplary models of government innovation and advances efforts to address the nation’s most pressing public concerns. Throughout its history, the program has generated a wealth of research based on award-winning government innovations and the study of how innovation occurs.