For the past two years, The Rockefeller Foundation and the Brookings Institution have worked in partnership to advise U.S. metropolitan regions and states to develop innovative economic growth plans. The idea is simple, but powerful: identify key assets that are unique to the area—such as proximity to waterways or high-tech corridors—and build on them to create new jobs and greater opportunity.
A new report from Brookings, with Rockefeller Foundation support, shows that building up a region’s advanced industries is one such possibility with enormous potential. These industries not only create good jobs within the industry, but also up and down their massive supply chains. These jobs provide higher wages and greater opportunity to low and middle-income workers adversely affected by the economic recession.
Two compelling examples from the report are Colorado and Tennessee. As the report states:
“[T]he state of Colorado—as part of the Colorado Blueprint economic planning process—commenced a systematic search for a strategy to advance its formidable aerospace industry in the summer of 2012. Likewise, in 2013, the state of Tennessee executed a similar exercise focused on its signature auto manufacturing industry. In both cases, a focused state sensed disruptive change in the air and sought to defend and expand a critical industry, so as to grow more and better jobs during a pivotal decade.”
In these cases, much of the leadership is coming from the highest levels of state government. In Colorado, Governor John Hickenlooper is building on the state’s aerospace assets to open up new possibilities for the state’s economy and its workers. In Tennessee, Governor Bill Haslam is expanding the state’s private and public sector commitments to its auto industry, noting that for every job created in the industry, another 6.5 jobs are created outside it.