Many states and cities are known for their dominant industries. But what characteristics move a dominant industry to be considered a “business cluster.” And better yet, what does it take for a cluster to be successful?
In this episode of Bottom Line IT, Mike Maddox sits down with a panel of business cluster experts including Bob Trezise and Keith Lambert of Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) and Carol Lauffer of Business Cluster Development.
It’s common to confuse “industries” and “clusters.” While a certain type of business may exist within a region, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s considered a “cluster.”
Instead, clusters are multi-faceted. On one hand, you need a geographic concentration of related companies in a particular field. But more importantly, there also needs to be an ecosystem of critical assets that make them successful (think talent pipelines and research/development).
“Clusters are not aspirational,” Carol points out, “there’s no ‘if we build it, they will come’ scenario.” Instead, it’s more about understanding what assets are present in a region and ensuring there is connectivity between those assets and the companies that need them.
And while many clusters emerge naturally, they need to be built with intentionality to make them thrive; and that’s where LEAP bridges the gap.
Clusters need access to the right resources in order to grow and innovate. LEAP’s role is to not only connect these firms with the resources they need but to help facilitate a dialogue between the firms themselves.
“It’s important for these companies to talk to one another,” Bob points out. He goes on to explain that when these organizations are open about their obstacles, they can take an active role in shaping those other assets like talent pipelines to meet their needs.
He cited a great example with Lansing’s Insurance cluster who band together in collaboration with Lansing Community College to develop a program specific to insurance, ensuring they have a ready workforce for their growing companies.
“A rising tide lifts all boats,” Keith concludes.
There’s so much more good stuff inside the episode! Tune in for the rest of Mike’s conversation below.