Interview with Ron Starner – Economic Development Expert, Publisher of Site Selection Magazine

Ron Starner is the General Manager of Conway Data Inc. the publisher of Site Selection Magazine. Ron and I have had a number of rewarding conversations about the direction economic development needs to make in order to ensure global competitiveness for foreign direct investment. One of the things I appreciate most about Ron is that he challenges your thinking. I learned a lot about foreign trade zones and their role in FDI attraction by researching and authoring a piece entitled "The need for a competitive edge in today’s global economy". And of course, in each of the last four consecutive years Ron and I have had occasion to talk about Ohio’s winning the annual Governor’s Cup Award. I will admit Ron’s congratulatory call has been one I have especially enjoyed and hope to receive again in 2010. But what I like most about Ron is that he "gets it". Ron understands that Brand America has work yet to do to remain competitive for global capital investment. The way economic development has been practiced in the past will not ensure prosperity and success in the future. Ron also believes in the aggregate power of community branding to help strengthen Brand America. I think you will find my interview with Ron both educational and interesting.

  1. Question: How would you articulate Brand America’s promise?

    Brand America is more an idea than a location, and that idea can be summed up in one sentence: If you come here and choose to make your home here, you will be given the greatest opportunity and freedom on earth to find meaning and purpose by pursuing your life’s passion through rewarding work.

  2. Question: What are the challenges that Brand America must address to consistently be seen as “walking the talk”?

    There are three: Resist the urge to curtail personal freedom; resist the impulse of government to create new programs to address every human need; and show the world that we are the good steward of resources that we claim to be.

  3. Question: What are the traits of Brand America that people around the world are likely to find appealing?

    Equal opportunity for all regardless of race or creed; the rule of law; protection of intellectual property rights; and economic success.

  4. Question: What are the different ways Brand America can keep its promise?

    Making the country more hospitable for FDI; lowering the tax and regulatory burden on domestic firms; presenting a better “first impression” by shoring up our stewardship of natural resources, public parks (e.g., the National Mall), and culture; and reversing the current tide of anti-immigrant prejudice sweeping the country.

  5. Question: What is the importance of Brand America in the world?

    It is arguably the most important in the world, for without an America that lives up to its promise the world would lack the greatest force for promoting freedom and prosperity it has ever seen.

  6. Question: Who benefits from a strengthened Brand America?

    First and foremost, American citizens; secondly, American companies; thirdly, every American ally around the world; and fourthly, oppressed peoples around the world, because America still remains their best hope for freedom.

  7. Question: Do you believe Brand America has a relevant, competitive and authentic promise?

    Yes, but that promise is slipping due to philosophical changes at multiple levels of government leadership, poor stewardship of resources and a growing belief that incompetence governs our boardrooms, state houses and national capital.

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