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Hippies and Economic Development

The New York Times writes today on how a city — "usually seen as an enclave of hippies, marijuana dispensaries and rock climbers — has become a hotbed of capitalism."

No, unfortunately, it's not Eugene, it's Boulder that's become a hot place for high-tech start ups. Could Eugene follow the model?

The NYT notes some key ingredients to success:

• Author Richard Florida's recipe for "talented people and a high quality of life that keeps them around, technological expertise, and an open-mindedness about new ways of doing things, which often comes from a strong counterculture."

• "the mix of money, universities, a high-tech talent pool and appealing lifestyle needed to hatch tech start-ups."

• "allows for lunch-break hikes"

• A University of Colorado "center makes sure that those veterans cross paths with young entrepreneurs. It hosts meet-ups, a campuswide business plan competition and a law clinic, where entrepreneurs get free legal help on things like intellectual property protection."

• "a three-month mentorship program that has taken place in an old gym in Boulder since 2007, has spurred the start-up community’s growth."

• "Several of them share space — tiny offices and a big common room, kitchen and deck — above Aji, a Latin American restaurant downtown."

Interesting. There's nothing about the big corporate tax breaks, chain stores, urban sprawl, big box retail, call centers, filling wetlands, bulldozing riverfront natural areas, reducing regulations, freeways or groveling for exportable factory jobs that has been and remains the focus of Eugene's failed economic development strategy. Maybe Eugene needs a stronger counterculture.