Take a look toward the future, and often California is already there. But when it comes to innovation hubs as drivers of job creation and shared wealth, is California the model America’s second- and third-tier cities really want to follow?
“You’re finding germs of California happening in lots of places,” says ImpactAlpha’s David Bank, a California resident, in the latest Returns on Investment podcast. He points to the development of entrepreneurial ecosystems and pockets of startup culture around the country that now offer a legitimate career path for many.
But Imogen Rose-Smith, an investment fellow at the University of California, isn’t so sure the California Model is a valuable export. For the model’s problems, look no further than…California, with its massive housing crisis and growing income inequality. “I’m a big believer in this focus on second and third-tier cities and what is it we need to spur innovation and jobs creation,” she says. “But this focus on innovation hubs and tech startups is screaming bubble economy.”
“The problem is created in California,” says Bank, “but the solution is also going to be created in California.” Bank says Silicon Valley is now pioneering the next stage. It’s “not just unicorn, go to the moon, apps, startup dot-com again. It’s real businesses, with real revenues, serving real people with real needs,” as Bank is learning in ImpactAlpha’s New Revivalists series, exploring the revival of entrepreneurship in America.
Is the future the bright-eyed optimism of the tech-utopian future that California presents? asks Brian Walsh, podcast host and head of impact at LiquidNet. “Or is it the bleak, dystopian, wealth inequality, housing crisis, natural disaster” scenario?
And can impact investing tip the scales to the former? Tune in to find out.
Special thanks to our podcast producer, Isaac Silk. You can subscribe to all the Returns on Investment podcasts at iTunes, Stitcher or wherever you listen.