Our Work

The American South: An Innovation Destination

Innovation Destinations benefit from increased economic activity—including new jobs, investment and spending—that are the result of companies’ quest to compete. A defined geographic area becomes an “Innovation Destination” by establishing and successfully communicating its pro-innovation policies to existing and potential investors.

Positioning the American South as a place that embraces innovation—an Innovation Destination—will require a deliberate and collaborative strategy that emphasizes in both word and deed how much the region’s leaders value and celebrate knowledge, knowledgeable people, knowledgeable businesses, and knowledgeable institutions.

Because Southern governors share the Southern brand, and because commerce does not follow political boundaries, governors should consider establishing a regional innovation strategy. We are forced to compete, but we can choose to also collaborate to increase the potential gains for everyone in the American South.

North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue identified "innovation as a job creation tool" as the focus of her work as SGA's 2011 Chairman, and tasked the staff to develop a mechanism to identify the region's innovation assets. The staff worked with the Southern Growth Policies Board and Esri to create a series of Innovation Assets Maps -- the first comprehensive inventory of the physical locations of the region’s many innovation-related resources.  This work evolved into a more sophisticated mapping project depicting the economic growth assets located in throughout the American South.

SGA staff also commissioned a report on the current state of, and future prospects for, the region's middle skill workforce. "Driving Innovation From the Middle" examines the role of middle-skill jobs in the American South’s economy and in key innovation industries, assesses current and future skills gaps, and explores policy strategies to close those gaps.