Dear all,

This is a shameless self-plug, and one which I should have found the time to make about two weeks ago.

We will be holding the 7th annual Global Automotive Conference in Lexington, KY on April 11-13th. Info here.

I warmly invite any of you who may involved in the industry (or in parallel ones), or who have interest in the issues and challenges of a global economy, to attend or contribute. Any Eph or friend will certainly receive a personal welcome and extra dose of hospitality.

If I may say so, the special draw of this conference is not just Phil Martens and Anne Stephens– but the many small groups which will gather here, from across the United States and from Mexico, the Russian Republics, France and Germany, the Emirates, the Chinese provinces, and so forth.

I have a particular pride that such a global conference will be taking place in Kentucky, and not Boston or Detroit or Chicago– or Beijing, for that matter. That it is now our place to bring such groups together.

One message I will be delivering at the Conference will be that the business entities above should not view each other solely as competitors, but as potenital partners possessing unique talents, capacities and competencies. The key to the game is not competing for pieces of the market pie, but establishing new relationships, supply chains and efficiences.

Another version of that message is that each of the entities above should be investing 2-4% of their annual expenditures to establish “embassy” operations within foreign markets. Kentucky businesses should and must establish an office in Shenzhen or Mexico, whose purpose is to forge co-operative supply and sales relationships with those regions. With 500 million to a billion consumers being added to such markets in the next decade, a Business Entity which does not start now risks missing the boat.

The point is to move from the local to the global in a single step. Geographers on the West Coast have dubbed this “glocalization.”

The above is therefore also a part of my vision for regional development of the mid-South and for global development in general. How do we turn Kentucky’s historical investment in automotive manufacturing– a competitive advantage which will wither in the next decade if we do not find alternate paths– into competencies which serve the demands of the next century? My hope is that Kentucky will become a very specialized center of international relations– a meeting place and crossroads for the many regions, cultures and business entitities involved in the automotive industry, and similar.

That may also be virtual. As I have just noted in another thread, we will also seek to develop simple technologies to deliver high-value content to any who need it. The proceedings of our conference will be available online, with, in the coming year, many of our critical conversations with industry players.

In such a vision, the reason you will come to Lexington or Bowling Green in twenty years will not be our cost of production and manufacturing– and our abundent living space, and a landscape which outshines the Berkshires– but our unique competencies and understandings and our ability to bring people and worlds together. To go so far, because our citizens will be competent translators of Spanish, Mandarin and Arabic.

Moving back to more pressing practicalities, we will also be using the Conference to lay the groundwork for a global consulting business which guides smaller business entities through the processes above– for those who may be interested in such endeavors.

Off the record, Governor Fletcher and the like will be making their appearances, “FWIW.”

Please feel free to forward this message. It seems to me that this is one of those situations where there must be Williams alums who would be interested in our efforts, from whom we could greatly benefit, and who would benefit in return. This is an Eph event :), and as in several of David’s other posts, the question is how to build better means of communication.

Worth saying again, that I would be more than glad to give personal attention to the accomodations that might be necessary for any Eph or friend to attend.

Finally, my special thanks to Frank, for providing a very pointed and inspiring question, which I read about 15 minutes before our Monday morning staff meeting, a few weeks ago. (And for reminding me of the limitations of my personal and mortal visions).

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