The second part of an interview conducted by Matt Scherer with Gary Shapiro the president of the Consumer Electronics Show. Gary is the featured speaker at this Thursday’s InnoTech set at the Henry B. Gonzalez convention center in San Antonio.
Q. How can we compete with nations like China in the marketplace?
Shapiro: China is an interesting case. Here we have an economy that is essentially where the United States was 100 years ago: Heavy on manufacturing and factory jobs. Given China’s inherent advantages – a large and low-cost workforce and natural resources – we can’t compete with China on that level. Rather, the United States must continue its trajectory of building an economy based on a highly skilled labor force, the Internet and technology. We already have built-in advantages to help us maintain our edge, but we’re not doing enough to advance it. As of April 1, the United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world and we have a regulatory environment that chokes business. Given the tools, America’s innovators will do what they do best, but if we straitjacket business flexibility we shouldn’t then be surprised when foreign competitors take our place.
Q.San Antonio has a growing reputation as a technology center in information assurances, medical – or biomed – and cloud computing. What can our city leadership do to enhance technology?
Shapiro: It can follow the example set by former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, who made growing his state’s tech sector a focus of his administration (1998-2002). Specifically, Gov. Gilmore created the nation’s first state Secretary of Technology, established a statewide technology commission, and enacted the first Internet regulatory policy that essentially said: Hands off. Now, Virginia is known as a tech mecca, largely because of Gov. Gilmore’s foresight. San Antonio should pursue a similar strategy that puts city government on the side of businesses and innovators. This doesn’t mean central planning and the picking winners and losers. Rather, it means focusing all policies toward the end of attracting investment and empowering innovators with the freedom and resources they need.
Q. Is there anything else you would like to add about your talk?
Shapiro: We are at a critical moment in American history. While our economic superiority is under threat from foreign competitors, we are mired in out-of-control government spending and a poisonous political climate, which means that the passion for rebuilding America’s economic engine must come from Americans themselves. We can’t wait for Washington to get its act together. And we’re not. Two years ago, CEA launched the Innovation Movement to bring together an engaged community of citizens who believe innovation is critical to American global leadership and economic growth. Today, the Innovation Movement has 200,000 members, but we need more to help us successfully influence policy. I urge your readers to sign up for the Innovation Movement at DeclareInnovation.com. Together, we can help restore American prosperity by expanding America’s innovative engine.