Five on Friday: Fuel for Thought

posted on Friday, July 28, 2017 in Blog

This is the inaugural “5 on Friday” reading list, a new regular feature of our blog.

By Steve Dust, CEO, Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber

As I was reviewing the communications you receive from the Alliance & Chamber with Dorothy de Souza Guedes, our new Director of Communications, she suggested I give a recap each week of the stuff coming across my line of sight that I found worth the read. “5 on Friday” will provide a link or citation to five items I'm reading in my role with the Alliance & Chamber.

I'm a voracious reader — and it's all non-fiction, most on the subjects of business and the economy. Sometimes I slip over to government policy and historical accounts of big events in business or government and how these impact us. The other thing I read about is the history and application of my Christian faith, but those topics generally won't show up on this list unless the article or blogpost is directly overlaid onto the economy.

For each of the five, I'll give a sentence or so of context and will only include links I have used myself and that you will have access to the material without too much hassle, e.g., registering for a newsletter.

And “5 on Friday” is a two-way street: please send me recommendations on books, reports, articles, blogs, videos, or anything you're reading or watching that impacts business and the economy.

So, here's Five On Friday, July 28, 2017.

ONE: Foxconn Promises Mammoth Wisconsin Plant

In these weekly blog posts, I won't often comment on the successes of other cities, regions, or states, but this story out of Wisconsin is timely, extraordinary, and in the Midwest. Foxconn just announced this week that it will build a mammoth $10 billion plant employing as many as 13,000 cheeseheads to produce LCD panels. Wisconsin has promised up to $3 billion – that's a three followed by nine zeros — in incentives. Watch this blog for a post we'll write to put the Foxconn story in the perspective of the economic developer.

Meanwhile, you can read this article in the Capital Times, Madison, Wisconsin, covering Foxconn's initial announcement.

TWO: Ernie Goss' Mid-American Economy

Ernie Goss, a professor at Creighton University's Heider College of Business, specializes in the Midwestern economy. He is an astute and business-knowledgeable — read “capitalism friendly” — economist. You've probably heard Ernie in the Cedar Valley during one of the Economic Update events sponsored by The Courier and Community Bank & Trust or perhaps your industry trade group meetings.

This month, it's a real mixed bag: the June Mid-American Economy report shows high levels of optimism although the Rural Main Street Index describes the largest one-month drop since November 2008. Once you follow the link, roam around the Economic Outlook website to find areas that apply to Ernie's Main Street Index and state-by-state observations. You can subscribe to his Economic Trends newsletters, too.

THREE: CNBC's Top States for Business Ranking

There are a lot of rankings that gauge our nation, state, and metro in some category or another. All get noticed when released, but few survive over the years — or have a foundation of credible criteria. The annual CNBC state rankings are credible and are worth the time to review. Just don't ask me to chant “We're number 15!” That just doesn't have the ring of “We're number 1!” — especially when Indiana and Nebraska rank higher on the list. This will take you directly to the study summary page; for detail, click on the “Top States 2017” tab above the headline.

FOUR: US Needs a Functioning EXIM Bank

If your business exports, you may have been a customer of the EXIM Bank directly or via a consultant. Officially Export-Import Bank of the United States, EXIM has been in flux for some time because the U.S. Senator who chaired the committee charged with confirming appointments to the bank's board wouldn't consider any nominees. Why? The Senator cited the Bank as “corporate welfare” and crony capitalism. Things have changed and there's an opportunity to get EXIM back into operation.

The bank is more important to smaller manufacturers than to the two or three big corporations who use it and get all the attention. Bottom line, EXIM is an important source of export and market growth assistance that makes a healthy profit margin for the Federal Government. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce makes the case well in this article from its Above the Fold newsletter.

FIVE: HBR on Neurodiversity as a Hiring Advantage

If you're willing to go deep on the topic of workforce solutions, as we have in implementing our strategies to Win the Talent War, you will enjoy this Harvard Business Review article on the competitive advantage of neurodiversity. To explain, the article quotes a Psychology Today blog post: “Neurodiversity is the idea that neurological differences like autism and ADHD are the result of normal, natural variation in the human genome.”

The examples given are those larger firms that can wrap resources around an initiative to delivers business results. The struggle we have consistently with our inclusion initiatives is how to make such business- and human-smart hiring practices practical for the smaller business. It's worth your time when the economy faces a growth constraint in talent.