Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Emerald Economy

I recently returned from a trip to the Emerald Isle. It was a wonderful experience. I’ve been there quite a few times, but I had several new experience and resulting perspectives that I’m going to share. Part of the difference for me surely has to do with this blog about the Silicon Slopes. I will draw a few comparisons between our "Slopes" and what I’ll call the Emerald Economy.
  1. Chambers of Commerce – I was privileged to attend an annual member meeting and business luncheon with the American Chamber of Commerce. My friend and colleague Bob Savage is the current president and invited me along with several other visiting guests. Ireland’s Prime Minister (An Taoiseach) was in attendance along with the US Ambassador to Ireland. It was an impressive meeting with very direct and engaging commentary by the leadership. Utah has several local chambers of commerce, including the impressive Salt Lake Chamber. We also have a WorldTrade Center organization for Utah, but there’s no singular focus like Ireland’s American Chamber of Commerce.
  2. Incentives – Part of the reason for EMC being in Utah is the incentives package we received from local government. Part of the reason for EMC being in Ireland is the incentives package there, not to mention low corporate tax rates. It was interesting to be in Ireland soon after the news had broken about the EU’s attempt to claim billions of dollars in unpaid taxes from Apple.  Everyone in Ireland called the EU decision “unfortunate” and said that Ireland had no intention of trying to collect that money.
  3. Customs & border protection – There’s no other country in Europe with a US Customs pre-clearance facility like what exists in the Dublin & Shannon airports. Once you’ve gone through it you’re virtually on US soil. Subsequent flight connections are similar to a domestic transfer. It was convenient and efficient. The use of technology combined with the movement of people and goods was a model I wish we had in other locations. Utah is obviously easy to enter and leave and the SLC airport has many international flights, largely thanks to its status as a Delta hub. That said, you can’t clear customs for any other country there.
  4. Languages – For the most part I understood everyone I came across. There were only a few exceptions in both Scotland and Ireland. Some of the accents were pretty thick J What was more notable were the many other languages I heard spoken. One of my colleagues used to live in Utah and was friends with my son during high school. He now lives in Dublin where he works for Dell EMC. He’s a great example of the type of multi-lingual, multi-cultural people who are attracted to Irish life. His parents are from different countries and he’s lived in several places, as a result he speaks Spanish, Italian, French and, of course, English. He loves working for a company like ours and he loves living in Ireland where he has such easy and affordable access to all of Europe. Utah boasts a lot of cultures and languages, but its diversity isn’t quite on the same scale.

A last and playful comparison between the Silicon Slopes and the Emerald Isle would be Ireland's lack of snakes and Utah's ample supply. I can't compare the skiing in Utah to Ireland's for obvious reasons :) 

On a more serious and final note, both EMC and Dell along with several of our strategically-aligned businesses have substantial operations in Ireland. There was some buzz around Dell’s decision to move manufacturing operations from Limerick to Eastern Europe several years ago, but the Ireland payroll for our combined companies is more now than it ever was before. I can only imagine that our investments will continue. Perhaps even more notably, the investment of other American companies will continue to grow in Ireland. The Emerald Economy is certainly an impressive one.

American logos on display at the AmCham luncheon
Me with friend & colleague Gillian
Friend & colleague Bob kicking off the luncheon
Ireland's Prime Minister - Enda Kenny
US Ambassador to Ireland - Kevin O'Malley
Me & Black Rock Castle
Not a postcard - This is Kinsale :)

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