Innovation is the engine of sustainable job creation and the driver of solutions (both technological and social) that can lead to a better life for everyone.
Increasingly, cities of the Mid-Atlantic are positioning themselves as the “next” marketplaces for innovation and commerce. They are offering the possibility of cost-efficient innovation with the same quality levels as the benchmarks at far less cost. Pittsburgh is one of these. Cleveland is one of these. Detroit is one of these. And the list goes on. All over the Rust Belt, we are vying for the Mid-Atlantic leadership position in innovation.
As the competition grows, the region needs to take a step back, see the similarities, and band together with a unique and productive offering that competes on the same level as other expected innovation regions. We need to rally around the founding beliefs of the region (hard work, creativity and perseverance) and work together with the understanding that a rising tide lifts all boats. We need to celebrate our wins collectively and use this collective success to create audience on a much larger stage. RustBuilt exists to be that single signal.
The modern innovation marketplace of the Mid-Atlantic region is still young—but it is born of the road tested, hardworking, experienced history of the industrial revolution. In aggregate, with its physical product and hard goods roots, the old line institutional capital of the region has not fully embraced the investment approaches of other markets or developed an appetite for technology risk—we need to change that.
We need to update the traditional mindsets that made the region thrive for generations. We need to compel the communities who have prospered to continue to reinvest in the communities that raised them. And we need to create a region powerful enough to to act as a magnet and reclaim the ex-pats who have moved elsewhere in search of the culture we are set to reinvigorate.
For the Mid-Atlantic to grow as a recognized innovation marketplace, the community of the Rust Belt must organize around and formalize the following core concepts:
We have always been and remain the captains of industry. We create things—from steel to machines to technologies to jobs. We built communities and the promise of a better future for families to grow. Our spirit is still alive and we are still innovating. We just need to get organized and stand and be counted. Are you RustBuilt?
RustBuilt is a grassroots initiative with the sole purpose of shedding a light on the collective and valuable innovation and entrepreneurialism of the Rust Belt.
It provides a common unified voice for these communities to reclaim the innovation and leadership mantle on which they used to stand.
We need to put our heads (and our investments and victories) together as a single community and reeducate the world about rust: it’s time tested, it survived the elements, and still just as strong as when it was forged—just with a little more patina.
We’re getting organized. We’re revealing a hidden community.
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