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By Chris Nolan  |  Posted 2004-08-12 Print this article Print

A recent study by the Bay Area Economic Forum and Joint Venture Silicon Valley, both business-oriented think tanks, says as much. The study, "The Future of Bay Area Jobs: The Impact of Offshoring and Key Trends," concentrates on San Francisco and Silicon Valley, home of a large concentration of U.S. tech jobs, but its findings arent parochial. "Outsourcing is a reflection of a number of business trends and trends in the global economy that are here to stay," said Sean Randolph, the Economic Forums CEO. "We basically need to live with it and make the right policy choices." The trends outlined by the Economic Forums report include things well beyond the control of any politician: the economic maturity of countries like India and China, once called "developing," and their willingness to compete; a cheap and reliable international telecommunications system; and American companies (like National Semis) willingness to segment their production and other processes and farm them out to other organizations.
What are the solutions? Concentrating on what works, on whats been successful, says the Economic Forums Randolph, not on penalizing companies that feel they have to move jobs abroad. He offers a list of suggestions that could fit into either partys agenda. They include the following:
  • Fund and encourage research, particularly high-end, high-concept innovation with state and federal support;
  • Help small business. Companies with less than 500 employees are the biggest job creators, but they need help not just with tax or other financial incentives but with soft supports like affordable housing, good public schools or workable mass transit; and
  • Help develop and create not just new companies but new industries, which often start small—from one well-educated persons good idea—and grow quickly. "Its the small businesses where most of the new ideas are going to come from Randolph said. "All the jobs arent going to go away, Randolph said, noting that creative stuff—research between disciplines, for instance—remains strong in the United States and continues to be a source of well-paying jobs. "This stuff will find a balance at some point."

    Standalone journalist Chris Nolan runs 'Politics from Left to Right,' a political Web site at that focuses on the intersection of politics, technology and business issues in San Francisco, in California and on the national scene.

    Nolan's work is well-known to tech-savvy readers. Her weekly syndicated column, 'Talk is Cheap,' appeared in The New York Post, Upside, and other publications. Debuting in 1997 at the beginnings of the Internet stock boom, it covered a wide variety of topics and was well regarded for its humor, insight and news value.

    Nolan has led her peers in breaking important stories. Her reporting on Silicon Valley banker Frank Quattrone was the first to uncover the now infamous 'friend of Frank' accounts and led, eventually, to Quattrone's conviction on obstruction of justice charges.

    In addition to columns and Weblogging, Nolan's work has appeared in The Washington Post, The New Republic, Fortune, Business 2.0 and Condé, Nast Traveler, and she has spoken frequently on the impact of Weblogging on politics and journalism.

    Before moving to San Francisco, Nolan, who has more than 20 years of reporting experience, wrote about politics and technology in Washington, D.C., for a series of television trade magazines. She holds a B.A. from Barnard College, Columbia University.


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