Matt Yglesias at Slate has a great blog post on how Universities are the key ingredients to 21st century success. Matt suggests that great Universities create neighborhood retail clusters alongside medical facilities to create a vibrant regional knowledge-based economy that ensures survival of cities. He illustrates his point with an example from Pittsburgh that has enjoyed major job diffusion thanks to Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh while Detroit has languished due to the absence of a great University in its midst(University of Michigan is located in Ann Arbor and not Detroit).
There is another reason for the success of Pittsburgh. Carnegie Mellon has been superb in spawning entrepreneurial firms based on its intellectual property. Carnegie Mellon’s focus on entrepreneurship and innovation has paid rich dividends thereby becoming a major economic engine for Pittsburgh.
There are many such examples of Universities becoming the bedrock of regional affluence in the United States – the research triangle at North Carolina made possible due to Duke, North Carolina and North Carolina State, Silicon Valley because of UC Berkeley and Stanford, and the emergence of Chicago area entrepreneurship due to University of Chicago, Northwestern, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. For example, Champaign-Urbana ranks in the top ten for venture capital deals per 100,000 people. The lesson is clear for lawmakers: stop the slow erosion of funding to higher education and commit to building and sustaining great Universities. That way, regional economies will continue to thrive.
Professor of Business Administration and
James F. Towey Faculty Fellow and
Executive MBA Academic Director