We were recently visited by a group from the Department of Economic Development of the Isle of Man. For those of you who do not know where the Isle of Man is, it is in the Irish Sea between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland. They have a population of about 85,000 people with 2% unemployment. They came to Foster City as a result of the great work of the Foster City Chamber of Commerce and its Interim CEO Joanne Bohigian.
The Isle of Man is undertaking a clean technology initiative and has come to the US to talk about its initiative and about international partnerships. The two cities selected for their presentation were Boston and Foster City.
It was surprizing to me to learn that the Isle of Man and Foster City have a lot in common. They are in the process of moving away from historical economic growth methods and looking to grow in ways that are sustainable environmentally, socially and economically. As those of you that have read some of my recent columns know, Foster City is also in the same transition, moving from growth through residential development to growth based on the same sustainable concepts.
From the brief discussion we had with our visitors, I learned that in deciding which sustainable economic choices to make for their country, they started with an analysis of what concepts naturally fit with their environment. Thus, they looked at wind and wave power as natural starting points for clean tech development. They also looked at their long standing and world famous TT gas powered motorcycle race and came up with a TT-0 concept which is a race involving motorcycles that have zero emissions. This choice alone has led to substantial developments in electronic motorcycle engine technology and generated significant income in the development of such technology.
Here in Foster City we are looking at our environment for economic development as well. For example we have plenty of sun and are looking at solar initiatives that, once implemented, will have positive financial impact by reducing the cost of electricity. Wind is probably another natural environmental feature we should take a look at. Regardless of where this leads, it was an incredible learning experience for me. I have always believed that when possible try not to reinvent the wheel. Thus, hearing about what we are trying to do here in Foster City has been done elsewhere is a great advantage for us.
The reason I wrote this article, however, is not to go on and on about the details of the meeting or even our economic plan, but to tell you that as a result of this experience, I have had somewhat of a paradigm shift in my thinking. While I have long understood and appreciated international partnerships through my work with our Rotary Club, I never before thought about international partnerships that could benefit Foster City. What I learned from this experience is how much even a City the size of ours truly lives in a global economy where we can learn from and share with our international sisters and brothers to our mutual benefit.
I do not know what will come of this initial meeting in the long run, but I think this experience has reminded me of the importance of looking outside the box for solutions and that we are not in this alone. Those are my thoughts. You can always share your ideas with me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (650) 286-3504.
September 26, 2012
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