Steve Bares is President and Executive Director of the Memphis Bioworks Foundation:
For the first several weeks of 2009, a lot of attention has rightfully
been placed on the challenges of creating jobs and reenergizing the economy – locally and nationally. Much of the immediate attention has been on the stimulus packages that will be coming from Washington. In light of all of the discussions, posturing and proposals being surfaced,my dream for Memphis in 2009 is that the stimulus dollars are actually used for long term, economy building and sustainable programs that create jobs and fight capital flight.
The recent economic uncertainty only highlights the long term erosion of the region’s ability to attract and compete for sustainable, high-wage jobs. We have the opportunity as a community to come forward with a united voice to attract investments in those programs, infrastructure and activities that strengthen our local economy for the long term, that build upon our community strengths and that will create the kinds of jobs that attract and retain the all important “knowledge workers” that every community is fighting to attract.
While the biosciences do not hold a monopoly on investments that fit the definition of sustainable, high quality, knowledge worker jobs, it is certainly an area with many opportunities. Stimulus areas of immediate need in our community include:
- Infrastructure construction on “shovel ready” projects that can be completed and contributing within 12 to 18 months
- Opportunities with both immediate and long term job creation
- Entrepreneurship support, especially in relationship to technology and bioscience start-up companies
- Health services and strategies to both reduce healthcare costs and improve the quality of care for under-served populations
- Green jobs
2009 will be an economically challenging year. My wish is that we unite to turn those short term challenges into sustainable term opportunities through proper and intelligent investment.