Patricia R. McCoy
Idahoans and all Americans must build for the future by avoiding short-term solutions directed at wealthy, existing clusters of industries, the Idaho Chamber Association heard here Jan. 30.
“Talk about merely lowering taxes won’t cut it today. Responsible leadership requires being guardians of the future. Invest in the long term. Look at what will have value in the future,” said Edward D. Barlow, president of Creating for the Future Inc.
Barlow was keynote speaker at the statewide chamber luncheon. Special guests included state legislators and several advisory councils to the governor’s office, including the Idaho Rural Partnership.
“Science and technology are the pathway to wealth creation today,” said Barlow, a former educator who calls himself a futurist. “We have to restructure education. Sixty percent of today’s jobs require only a two-year degree, not a four-year college education. Invest in community colleges and technical schools.”
Information, education, entertainment and work are all connected in real time today. Time and space are being compressed. The world is changing at such a rate that man can’t keep up, he said.
“Seventy percent of today’s manufactured goods will be obsolete in six years. Some 80 percent of the jobs today’s kindergartners will hold don’t yet exist. The average kindergartner will hold nine different jobs and retrain four times in his adult lifetime,” he said.
Currently, most adults dislocated from employment never get back to the same income level because they have no way to retrain, Barlow said.
“We need to build a pathway to plan for the future. Look at what we’ll value in the future,” he said. “Say yes to change or be willing to suffer the consequences of remaining the same. Looking ahead requires being proactive. Knowledge is power. The only sustainable competitiveness is the ability to learn faster than your competition. Your worst enemies are ignorance and apathy.”
Barlow’s luncheon speech followed a morning meeting during which the Idaho Rural Partnership discussed several rural development activities. Among them is a proposed upgrading and enlargement of the state parks system, presented initially by Robert L. Meinen, director of the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, and then by Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, who paid a brief visit to the IRP meeting.
“Nobody thinks of the time when Yellowstone and
Yosemite National Parks didn’t exist. The same is true of our
state park system, but it needs attention. Heyburn State Park, for instance,
was designated 100 years ago. The Civilian Conservation Corps built
a magnificent lodge and cabins 75 years ago. Today they’re all
closed, badly in need of repair and renovation. Is it on our watch that
we let them tumble down?” the governor said.
“We’ve never been there before. Rural Idaho is a full partner in that unemployment rate. Nobody has been left behind. There’s no better time to upgrade our parks. Our children will thank us,” said Kempthorne.
Meinen called the six existing state parks the jewels of the Gem State, and showed a film briefly touring each one. The presentation touched on the facility renovation and cabin construction planned to upgrade each one.
A proposal to designate a seventh state park in Eastern Idaho is also in the works. Several possible sites are being discussed, but none has yet been chosen, he said.
The IRP board also met with Michael Bogert, head of Region 10, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, who discussed his agency’s increasing emphasis on cooperation and collaboration. Pat Barclay, executive head of the Idaho Council on Industry and the Environment, gave the board an update on the work being done around Idaho in developing a roadless plan for the governor, at Kempthorne’s request.