Tom Friedman Gets It Right. So Come to Scranton

It would be easy to make fun of Tom Friedman of the New York Times for his essay today. What? To understand what’s happening in America, he drove for four days from Indiana to Tennessee? He actually ventured into what New Yorkers regard as “flyover” territory?

But it just so happens that he stumbled upon a very important truths and those truths are one reason I’m working hard to co-organize a national job creation summit in Scranton, Pa. on June 14 and 15.

First, Friedman’s truths: “The big divide in America is not between the coasts and the interior. It’s between strong communities and weak communities.”

He continues: “The communities that are making it share a key attribute: They’ve created diverse adaptive coalitions, where local businesses get deeply involved in the school system, translating in real time the skills being demanded by the global economy.

“They also tap local colleges for talent and innovations that can diversity their economies and nurture unique local assets that won’t go away. Local foundations and civic groups step in to fund supplemental learning opportunities and internships, and local governments help to catalyze it all.”

These observations were at the center of my 2011 book, The Next American Economy: Blueprint For a Real Recovery, and I’m pleased that Friedman has finally figured out the same things I did.

My crusade to help Americans understand how to create wealth and how to build their regions is now leading me to co-organize land moderate the summit in Scranton. We are bringing together the different tribes involved in economic development, starting at the universities that serve as idea factories, the professors who teach entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs themselves, workforce development people, cluster development experts, economic development representatives, large technology companies (Corning) and others to help them learn the same language and understand how they all play a role in creating successful local and regional strategies.

My apologies to long-time readers for pounding away on the same themes all these years, but it’s obvious that large cross-sections of the United States have not figured out how to play the game in this globalized, technology-intensive world. If you live in one of those areas, come to Scranton and learn how you can start winning.

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