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Thomas Friedman

New York Times columnist speech focuses on big companies driving growth of cities

Thomas Friedman

December 15, 2017

By: Fred Koury

In October I was invited to hear author and columnist Thomas Friedman speak at the Annual Speaker Series of the Visionary Leadership Institute at Lorain County Community College. Most of you are familiar with Friedman’s book “The World Is Flat,” but he is promoting his latest work, “Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations.”

I was struck by two themes of his talk. First was his view that big companies are driving the growth of cities. With all the focus on national politics, he says, people are missing the economic successes happening in heartland cities like Louisville, where a new global air hub for UPS, the bourbon boom and the growth of Humana have created a city with 30,000 job openings.

I also was interested in his notion that technology is advancing so rapidly that humans are having a hard time catching up. This has major ramifications for education — from college students whose knowledge decays rapidly after they graduate to established workers who must embrace lifelong learning to stay employable.
“That is what Lorain County Community College is all about,” he said. “How do we enable more people to learn faster and govern smarter to meet technology where it’s going?”

Like Friedman, I’m an optimist and I believe we will build the kind of strong companies that can drive growth in Northeast Ohio.