Securing the support and engagement of key city stakeholders is critical to ensuring the success of the IC model. These leaders usually include city and county officials, business owners, educators, journalists, chambers of commerce, civic groups, advocacy organizations, economic development entities, foundations, unions, and houses of worship.
Over the course of a year, we work with these partners to identify an economic niche -- or "vertical" -- that best fits a city's history, local resources, educational systems, regional economy, and passion. While qualitative dialogue is important in this process, so too is quantitative data. That includes market research and consumer data.
Once IC staff chooses the vertical, willing stakeholders move to aggressively implement their contribution to the industry of focus. For instance, educators work to reaffirm, reorient, or rebuild knowledge systems that feed talent into the vertical. Meanwhile, local and county officials create or alter laws and ordinances to encourage R&D. Finally, civic society spreads word of the IC campaign to citizens, especially those in marginalized or disaffected communities.
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
After considerable dialogue between IC staff and community stakeholders, the city of Coeur d'Alene chose to focus its vertical on robotics and artificial intelligence (AI). Civic leaders took action by passing laws that allowed R&D and testing of robots on any and all city property. Next, educators created robotics programs for every K-12 school to inspire the city's youth. Meanwhile, the University of Idaho created a Computer Science degree with an emphasis in robotics. Also, the nonprofit Gizmo launched their "inventor labs" to encourage citizen dreamers to build prototypes of their ideas. Finally, the community rallied around the annual Think Big Festival, where experts in the fields of robotics and AI gathered to talk about the future of both industries.