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“Retain talent, connect innovators and embrace failure.” Those were the top three tips delivered by Steve and Jean Case and Don Graves at the recent CEOs for Cities conference at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, OH.
At a time when more than half of the world lives in urban areas, strong, successful American cities are more essential than ever to a strong America. CEOs for Cities is a partnership network that connects civic CEOs and urban leaders to each other and to smart research, ideas, practices, case studies, lessons learned, and compelling stories for making cities more economically successful.
In opening remarks, Steve Case said the U.S. is a nation built by entrepreneurs who made most of their important discoveries in cities, which are important enablers of innovation. Businesses, he added, can be divided into two major camps: Attackers, whose new ideas challenge the status quo; and defenders, which tend to be larger companies that hedge their downside by growing incrementally.
“This nation has been an attacker nation,” he said, “but it’s not certain that the next 200 years will continue on that track. It can, and hopefully will, but it’s not guaranteed. Other countries are figuring this out.”
Jean Case extolled the virtues of “fearless innovation” during her introductory remarks. Entrepreneurial communities are best when they shed their aversion to risk and learn how to “fail forward,” she said. “That means learning from mistakes while striving for the next success.”
Don Graves said, “There is a clear need for strong infrastructures for this nation and cities to compete on a global scale. This nation has been the hotbed of innovation, but without an infrastructure that supports that innovation this country is losing out to our global competitors.”