The Next America

Every once in awhile you meet somebody that you find fascinating and exceptionally helpful. For me, Don Holbrook fits that description well. I first met Don at an annual International Economic Development Council meeting in Atlanta. I had heard a lot about Don and made a point of making his acquaintance. Since that initial meeting, Don and I have had a number of conversations and his counsel has been both encouraging and invaluable to my understanding of economic development.

Don is a “larger than life” personality and it is only fitting his consulting practice (The Vercitas Group) is headquartered in Las Vegas. He is considered by many a pioneer of site location and community profiling technology, and is a well-respected speaker. Don is also an accomplished author. His work has been featured in the Wall Street journal, New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post and many other nationally prominent media.

Published in 2007 – The Little Black Book of Economic Development

Published in 2008 – Who Moved My Smokestack?

It didn’t take long for Don and me to find a common ground to build a friendship. He is a fellow Buckeye and shares a concern about the future of Brand America. Don’s latest book is a compilation of his thinking on the subject.

Published in 2011 – The Next America: Moving Beyond a Fragile Economy

Full Disclosure

In the spirit of full disclosure, I consider Don a friend and somebody I both respect and admire. He has provided me valuable guidance and wise counsel, but we have not worked together professionally. My recommendation of his book is based solely on my reading of it after purchasing it on Amazon (Kindle version $9.99).

The Book

The Forward is authored by Dr. Matthew Gardner, Director of Sustainserv and former Executive Director of the Earth System Initiative, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He sets a thought provoking tone for the book in his opening two sentences.

“Humanity faces challenges unlike others we have ever seen before. Our planet s changing in unpredictable and often deteriorating ways before our eyes, our social fabric is fraying, and our economies are stressed.”

It is against this backdrop that Don tackles a wide range of topics. His style is both reflective and authoritative. The book starts with a discussion on the need to change the national government in America, from rooting out systemic corruption to revising the tax code. Then Don tackles issues like homeland security, reviving local economies and becoming better stewards of the environment.

Spoiler Alert: The book is not a doomsday testament. Rather, it is intended to be a hopeful blueprint for a better future where Brand America regains its historical role of an aspirational global leader.

For every problem Don identifies, he proposes a possible solution. My characterization of Don’s message is that to Strengthen Brand America we need to make some fundamental product improvements. We need to remind ourselves of the Brand America promise and work to ensure its continued authenticity. The world is in a constant process of change and continual improvement of Brand America is the only way to achieve sustainable economic prosperity for her citizens.

Don defines Brand America’s promise as “… all are treated equally and are equally able to pursue life, liberty and happiness.”. Don and I both believe a grassroots approach to improvement can be effective in strengthening Brand America. It is the underlying theme of his book and the basis for the Strengthening Brand America Project.

Suggested New Year’s Resolution

  • Become a member of the Strengthening Brand America Project. It is free, simply click HERE.

What Books Would You Recommend Reading?

Please leave a comment with your recommended reading for 2012. If we all share, we’ll create a great “must read” list of books that will help us be better economic development professionals. Thanks in advance.

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