By Ryan McGreal
Published December 08, 2011
As a speaker at LeWeb'11, Google executive chairperson Eric Schmidt spoke candidly and expansively about a large swath of issues related to technology, politics, civic engagement, and business.
At one point, Schmidt spoke about the role of cities in fostering innovation and economic development (you can jump straight to that section of the video):
One of the most important things, I think, is that Silicon Valley needs a competitor. Competition is good, and Silicon Valley has shown a model of innovation around technology and the kinds of things that we're talking about. And there's a number of cities ... that have the possibility of being a significant competitor.
Now why do I say, 'cities'? After all, the Bay area is largely a suburb. Well, today, entrepreneurship tends to break out young, because people have less to lose, if you will. They tend to be current and perhaps more risk-seeking. They have less of a family commitment or what have you because of the stage of life that they're in. And those people tend to prefer cities.
There's also a lot of evidence in the United States - and I think it's always been true in Europe - that the cultural vibrancy, the diversity of opinion, the diversity of people, the tolerance of different religions - all of those things tend to produce stronger human organizations, and that you're more likely to get a diverse point of view, both in terms of creativity and engineering, in cities.
Cities that recognize and cultivate this will reap the benefits in job creation and economic development.