Super Cities №139 — Make Local Innovation Great Again

Brendan Hart

One Big Thing

The Power of Local

Southwest Airlines started service at BWI Marshall 25 years ago this week.

Hart’s Comment

All things of sustainable value start small — and, in this case, small means local.

Amazon delivered books in Seattle. Facebook developed a network for college students. Uber connected riders and drivers in San Francisco. Nike made sneakers for University of Oregon runners.

The best strategic partnerships start small too.

Like Analog Innovation, airports, airlines, and public-private partnerships are boring.

That’s why they are great case studies.

Baltimore-Washington Airport is not in Baltimore or Washington, DC. You would have a hard time finding it on a map.

But BWI — an international airport — provides a much more pleasant traveler experience than, say, NYC’s Kennedy (which will soon announce a $10 billion investment that does not include a runway…).

Southwest is the primary driver of BWI’s success.

With a workforce of almost 4900, Southwest services nearly 70% of all BWI passenger airport traffic; Delta, its closest competitor, has only 8% of the market. Southwest has helped BWI reach passenger growth in 35 out of the last 36 months.

What can we learn from BWI and Southwest?

Our intuition is correct: time and energy, spent locally, is almost always a good investment.

So as the world looks out there — over every horizon to every emerging market — for opportunities, a smart strategy is to start right where you are.

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