President's Blog

Mason, a hot spot on region’s ‘Roadmap’

“The Roadmap for the Washington Region’s Economic Future” runs through George Mason and other area universities that can help produce the talent and ideas that will steer our economy toward national and international markets and away from a reliance on federal spending.

That was one takeaway from the extensive report that Mason economist Stephen Fuller delivered to about 600 or so business leaders this morning at the Cardinal Bank Greater Washington Economic Conference.  Fuller’s presentation was a call to action to business, government and nonprofit leaders: unless we do something to change current trends, the Washington regional economy will not, by itself, continue to outpace national growth as it consistently did until 2010.

“Diversification is building on what you already have, not building what you don’t have,” said Fuller. That’s why it is essential to identify the clusters where we have competitive advantage already, the capabilities that can lead to high-growth, export-based, high value-add businesses.”

The analyses conducted by Fuller, in partnership with researchers from American University and the University of Maryland, and supported by The 2030 Group and other regional organizations, point out a set of sectors that meet the criteria: advocacy services, information and communications technology and services, security technology and services, bio and health, business and financial services, leisure business, media and information.  Each one of them is a knowledge-based, service-oriented sector. Each one of them requires a constant influx of talent and ideas.

And that’s where Mason and other universities come in. No one is better equipped than our universities to drive innovation, conduct research, attract talent to the area, prepare a career-ready workforce, and provide the continuing education and training needed to lead us into a new era of greater prosperity.

To make this pivot, we need the private and public sectors to collaborate to maximize the region’s strengths. Mason and other local universities are those critical links between business and government for research and development.

We can accomplish so much more when we work with our neighbors around the region. The recently announced Mason-Inova partnership is just one example. Fuller’s report should encourage many others.