Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Viewpoint from Down Under

“I knew zilch about Montana, so I asked some guys at my local golf club—but all this ageing pool of knowledge could offer was grizzly bears, the Rockies and the Horse Whisperer movie,” was how Rod Brown from Australia ( started off his article about the state. Rod works in the ED arena and was in Billings relating the issues of rural Australia and hoping to find mutual clusters that could offer information exchange and joint ventures. It is often interesting to get new perspectives and bringing in someone from Australia is about as far away from home as you can get. I’ve been corresponding with Rod and a number of people from other countries since I published Boomtown and wanted to relate some of his perspective on a rural American state.

Rod was impressed with the way that the various politicians at the ED Summit worked together, even though they were from competing parties. He thought that “Big Sky” Montana had many attributes similar to Tasmania, Far North Queensland, the Flinders Ranges and areas of New Zealand and that there could be a cross pollination of ideas to promote environmental, food and lifestyle industries.

He also notes his talk with Russ Fletcher of the Montana Associated Technology Roundtable, which has one of the best weekly ED newsletters ( Rod quoted Russ on the subject of ED, “Take a look at Ireland, Michigan, Maine or any number of successful economic development areas. The first thing that had to be done was to engage all politicians and not make it an ‘if’ but a ‘how much’ when their dedication to economic development was discussed. If they didn’t put 110% of their efforts behind ED, they weren’t in my office very long.” Words well said.

Don’t stay in your own world. Look at how you can get ideas from other successful areas, even it they might be half way around the world.

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