Saturday, October 28, 2006

Economic Development - Good News and the real problem.

I don't know if you have looked at the article in the local section of "The Southern" today, "Aboard the Connect SIU Train"? I met with Frank Knott the other day and he is good and he is smart. His company "Vital Economy" seems to be pointed at exactly the right problems that we have here in the 51st State.

I talked to him for a long time and I think that he and I agree on many of the problems of doing economic development in Southern Illinois. There is a shocking lack of people who are college educated and between 30 and 50 years old. There is plenty of money for early stage companies, but much less if you need bigger money. There is a lack of talent/people for knowledge based jobs. He said as we parted, "I was really surprised that you didn't name the large number of levels of government as the number one problem." I smiled and said back, "The first thing I told you was the Illinois state government is total corrupt."

For our second SI story today, "Campaign donor Pleads Guilty in Kickback Case." Not to defend the current governor, but
Blagojevich issued a statement saying that the plea agreement "reveals a pattern of wrongdoing by Stuart Levine that betrayed the trust of Gov. (Jim) Edgar who first appointed him and to all of us here in Illinois."
The guy who plead guilty has been around forever. He was finally invited to do the perp walk after getting crazy.
Prosecutors maintain that Levine, Blagojevich fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko and others schemed to get at least $20 million and perhaps as much a $50 million in assorted kickbacks.
What concerns me after talking to Mr. Knott is he doesn't understand the scope of the corruption problem here in Illinois. If you are in Illinois politics at any level, it should be assumed you are dirty. At the end of the day, good businesses start, locate and thrive on a clean playing field. Not saying everyone is breaking the law and should go to jail, but if you scrub toilets you always need to wash your hands before eating.

I don't believe you can successfully do business development in Southern Illinois without cleaning up the numbers of layers of government (the most of any state) and throwing the dirty politicians in jail. If you said this cleanup isn't going to happen because the people don't have the will, I would have to agree with you. But, that means that better economic times aren't going to happen either.

As always, your comments are welcome.


Anonymous said...

Human Capital: You mentioned many posts ago about the large number of unsupported Indian grad students in EE or ECE. They go door to door asking for jobs. I have seen some of their resumes and have worked with a couple of them closely. There are many very bright hard working guys among this group. Many do not care about getting a degree from SIUC. They just wanted to get in the US. If you or some other business owner can get them the right visa, you'll get some good workers. If you have qualms raidding EE, maybe positions with local businesses could be made as a co-opt arrangement.

I have met Indian grad students from Com Sci who are working as night janitors on campus. What a waste of brain power.

Peter in Carbondale said...

There are good and hard working people everywhere. I know several of the EE Indian grad students, they are nice people.

But, should the university have an open admission policy for graduate students? Should they have massive numbers of graduate students they can't support? It appears that no one else will do what EE does and hang these kids out to dry with their huge student loans. The other professors tell me it is unethical, but I don't work at a university, so it is hard for me to tell.

There is nothing better at my business then unpaid interns (ie slave labor), maybe I should see if there are people I can abuse like EE? I can get work done, they shine up their resume and no money changes hands. I know that isn't ethical in my business. One of the great things about ethics, often you can talk yourself into things and worry about the damage to others later.