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Harvard Business School Professor Launches U.S. Cluster Mapping Tool

michael_porterRenowned Harvard Business School (HBS) Professor Michael Porter has launched a new tool that provides data on the presence of “clusters” – regional groupings of related industries – and regional economies throughout the United States. By providing a view of economic development through the lens of clusters rather than specific types of companies, industries or sectors, the new U.S. Cluster Mapping tool can help identify important links and potential synergies between technology, skills and information.

Porter launched the new tool, based on his path-breaking research, as part of a two-day conference called Mapping the Midwest’s Future, held late last month at the University of Minnesota. The conference drew business leaders, policymakers, economic development officials and academics from multiple Midwest states and Canadian provinces.

The U.S. Cluster Mapping Project is part of HBS’s U.S. Competitiveness Project, which is led by Porter and focuses on improving the competitiveness of the United States. Porter advocates a bottom-up, cluster-based approach to economic development and growth, one led by the private sector and focused on competitiveness and innovation.

The U.S. Cluster Mapping tool, Porter asserts, will provide new regional perspectives on economies and the competitive industry landscape at national, state and local levels, as well as insights into new and emerging clusters in different regions. Furthermore, the cluster perspective can help business leaders and policymakers better understand the specific industry dynamics that shape a regional economy and, importantly, highlight opportunities for coordination and joint action.

In his presentation at the Mapping the Midwest’s Future conference, Porter pointed to many positive examples of clusters driving regional development initiatives. They included Milwaukee’s Water Council, which aligns the regional freshwater research community with water-related industries to help establish the region as hub for water-related research and economic development, and NorTech, a technology-focused organization that seeks to accelerate the pace of innovation in Northeast Ohio as a means of strengthening the region’s economic vitality.

Porter urged business leaders and others to check out the tool and the data it makes available, register their organizations, and engage with partners and peers to further the practice of cluster-based economic development.

Learn more about Michael Porter’s U.S. Cluster Mapping Tool.