Ready, Fire, Aim!
Local folks who read, listen, or go online know by now that our Economic Resource Council (the politically acceptable name sans that dreaded ‘development’ in its moniker) is putting on its now annual economic development extravaganza this Thursday, 7 April 2016. Yesterday ERC publicist Janet Augstein broadcast its latest online press release (here) describing the event to which you can buy tickets.
The 2016 NCERC Annual Regional Economic Development Summit will make the case that Nevada County is the ideal place to start a center for developing augmented and virtual reality technologies and products. I agree with the focus of the event, if not yet completely comfortable with its thrust. To find out more about that, Jo Ann and I will attend the whole affair to understand what all the fuss is about.
According to The Union (here), the baby’s new name is The Green Screen Institute; the old name which didn’t get much traction was Sierra Digital Media Campus. The intent of the GSI is to field 1) “a three-month accelerator program designed to provide technical, educational and financial support to virtual reality and augmented reality start-ups”; and 2) “provide co-working space for more established corporations.” Besides our quality of life, Nevada County also has a surfeit of quality office space, the supply of which has increased markedly during this extended economic doldrum. A casual drive through our several business parks under the pines will confirm this.
“What we’re putting in place are the tools, people and resources to make it as absolutely easy as possible for a high-potential start-up to get off the ground or go from point A to point B in the trajectory of their company.” Jon Gregory, ERC Executive Director.
I anticipate how all of this comes together will be explained this Thursday at the Summit. In the meanwhile I’m a bit puzzled why the ERC did not contact the founders and management of Riskalyze, a successful high tech company located in Auburn that develops and supplies financial engineering software to the institutional investment markets. Riskalyze is Auburn’s largest private employer second only to its city government. (Full disclosure – I am a co-founder of the company.) Riskalyze, now in its sixth year, has successfully solved all the staffing, housing, facilities, financing, government relations, … problems that are often the real hurdles for a start-up.
What I see as more than a bit of a potential distraction for GSI's management is the early (premature?) inclusion of the county’s art culture in directing the nascent start-ups. The other concern I have is that all the successful ventures I have experienced and participated in were launched by entrepreneurs with their own idea/dream, be it a unique intellectual property for developing a product, or new markets for that or existing products. (I have started and/or run four high tech companies and been a technology M&A consultant to large corporations.) With the GSI the ERC takes another cut at its targeting the technical sector along with its vision for success, and then attract some talented bodies with enough fire in their bellies whom they can convince to make it all real. I suppose it’s possible to have the horse push the cart – never say never.
[4apr16 update] Kudos to our Union columnist and RR commenter George Boardman on his 4apr16 column ‘Bad publicity from measles case won’t help economic development’. Regarding our effort to attract employees for the new high-tech businesses, start-ups and imports, Mr Boardman asks, “But why would a bright young professional in his right mind want to send his children to schools where just 77 percent of their kindergarten classmates have received all of their vaccinations? Worse yet, he could enroll his kids in the Yuba River Charter School, where just 43 percent of those students are properly vaccinated.”
This highlights some of the real factors that contribute headwinds to the economic growth of our county. Meanwhile the local socialists have concluded that our economic development problems are all due to the county’s conservatives and high retiree population. These people demonstrate again and again that they literally have no idea what is necessary to make an economy work. Perhaps it really is as someone observed, ‘It’s not that liberals don’t think, it’s just that they have such bad luck when they make the attempt.’
On our schools’ ability to produce STEM trained workers who then will become productive workers to California employers, Mr Boardman highlights the ongoing travesty of the University of California (my alma mater) wherein its “mandarins” claim to attract and admit foreign students “to enhance diversity and breadth of experience that add to the quality of education for the children of the people who actually support the institution.” Meanwhile our own students are rejected or shown to the rear of the line.
The reality is quite different and much worse according to a recent report by state Auditor Elaine Howle who “concludes these claims are at best B.S., and at worst fraud.” More specifically, Ms Howle states that “out-of-state and foreign students are aggressively recruited for the high tuition they’re willing to pay, that academic standards are lowered for thousands of these students, and that qualified California applicants are shut out because of this policy.”
The lowering of academic standards really coats this bitter pill for me and illuminates the hypocrisy of the progressive UC administrations that have fiscally mismanaged the university for years raising non-academic costs that the students then have to chase with ever higher tuitions to pay for poor quality education products. The DoJ actively prosecutes for-profit universities for such fraudulent practices that graduate students with high debts and no employable skills.
Finally, transiting from the plain stupid to bizarre, Mr Boardman’s column concludes with an introduction to “culture appropriation”. Culture appropriation “is defined as adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of a different culture”. This is a newly discovered “angst” by the looney Left that adds to the pile of “trigger warnings, micro-aggressions, and other traumas that afflict modern American college students.” Apparently aping some dress, mannerisms, and music from other cultures is now deemed as “wrongfully oppressing the minority culture or stripping it of its group identity and intellectual property rights”. For a more complete snootful, please read the column.