Jim Clifton, CEO of Gallup, has an interesting article on local city leaders and their role in creating jobs and economic growth. He notes differences between various big cities such as Austin, Texas and Nashville, Tennessee, which have thriving economies and low unemployment rates, and Albany, New York, and Stockton, California, which don’t. The cities that succeed do so, not because of national leaders, but because city leaders in politics, business, and philanthropy work to create a social environment friendly to economic growth and humane social existence.
The reality is, when it comes to creating economic growth and good jobs, local leadership trumps national leadership. For instance, Austin and Albany are both capital cities in big American states. Neither city is located by a port or a natural tourist attraction with beaches or mountains. They’re pretty much alike, except that Austin wins big and Albany loses big.
The difference, in my view, is that Austin has deeply caring, highly engaged business, political, and philanthropic leaders with principles, policies, beliefs, and values about human nature that work. They understand how to build a thriving, growing economy — one that welcomes business and entrepreneurship. Albany has the opposite, as I see it: Leaders with principles, policies, values, and beliefs that discourage business and entrepreneurship, if not outright scaring them away.
Cities across the country with great leadership are filled with booming startup companies, and those cities have thriving economies that create authentic, organically grown good jobs. These cities are saving America, while the others are letting the country down.