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United States of Innovation Offers Insight, Points to New Kinds of Jobs, Learning Opportunities, Approaches to Community Problem-Solving

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May 16, 2011

Fast Company's Tour of Innovation

Fast Company's Innovation Survey
This month's Fast Company Magazine features of look at what it calls The United States of Innovation - a survey of innovation and innovators from across sectors and across states.

All 50 States and the District of Columbia
Each has something unique to offer citizens, governments, entrepreneurs and other changemakers seeking to help their communities prosper. But a few of them speak to issues workforce leaders think about each and every day. We'd encourage you to glance at all of them, but if you've only got a minute, here's our top five short-list - curated just for you.

  1. Kentucky: Eric Patrick Marr's Lexenomics - and the Smart Series, in particular (more here). Eric's seems pretty confident that it's people - Kentucky residents working, learning, and playing together - that will keep Lexington thriving.
  2. Maryland: The Baltimore Free School. From Portuguese to politics to poetry, peer-based, participatory learning rules here. What else could we teach this way?
  3. North Carolina: The Charlotte Regional Partnership provides a way for 12 counties to work together in support of prosperity - and the people smarts to make sure it lasts. We'd also give these folks props for their transparency - all the partners (public and private) are listed on the easy-to-navigate website, and social media options are right there on the homepage.
  4. Ohio:The tagline for Cincinnati's Strive Partnership is "Every child, every step of the way, cradle to career." Now who can't get behind that? This initiative was also cited during our group interviews as a top-notch example of workforce leadership. We'd point you to the serious accountability support here - dashboards, report cards, and a clear theory of change all right there. Makes us want to volunteer from all the way across the country.
  5. Oregon*: Portland State University's Social Innovation Incubator is just one of the many initiatives aiming to transform the way we solve community problems in Portland and beyond. Springboard Social Innovation is working on Hatch, a social innovation incubator that not only offers space and support, but access to capital aimed at social impact, not just profit. This is no small feat. The Lemelson Foundation is working in the US and around the world to help current and future generations invent a better future. And the Meyer Memorial Trust is launching a community innovation platform to connect citizen problem-solvers to each other and to community organizations, institutions and governments, piloting new ways to collaborate on improving our communities in ways that make us all smarter.

Full disclosure: I live in Oregon and will admit to Oregon's slight advantage in making our top-five list. Your comments are welcome.