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Morgan Hill
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January 18, 2022

Our Town: Let innovation grow

On June 2, I had the opportunity to spend some time with visionaries. Not the type of visionaries that change a community or the landscape you live in—although I guess ones I’m talking about can do that too—but the kind that provides previously unimagined conveniences and change how we live and function.

I have to admit that I may initially think about some of our local folks when I think about that kind of visionary. But my mind typically goes north to all of the innovation that has made Silicon Valley what it is today, which is not just a place but a way of thinking and behaving.

That way of thinking just changed a bit for me after attending the first ”Morgan Hill Disrupt Forum.” This was a day where the focus was on innovation and how to bring more of those that innovate to Morgan Hill.

Let’s make no mistake that there are already great innovators here right now. We have a visionary that dreams of hydrogen power for all, a company that has brought the technology of Formula 1 to human powered bicycles and one that protects the grey matter between our ears if we fall off that two-wheeled technology. But I don’t feel the buzz of innovation.

I grew up on the Peninsula and worked building high tech facilities. In that environment, the buzz of innovation was everywhere. In a coffee shop, cafeteria, park bench, meeting room—there was all of this palpable energy that there was something happening or about to happen.

I sensed that buzz in the room at the Morgan Hill Disrupt Forum. Please forgive me if there is already a buzz of innovation in town and I’m just missing it (spend some time with Mike Cox and you’ll feel that energy around him like a force field). But it was fantastic for me to see the focus on it that day.

The group who worked to put that event together should be lauded for their vision too. As mentioned, I usually think of Silicon Valley as the place of innovation. Well, we are a part of Silicon Valley and the organizers brought in one of those people that makes a living recognizing innovation and trends, and has mountains of statistics to prove we lead the world in innovation: Russell Hancock.

Hancock is the president of Joint Venture Silicon Valley. I’ve seen him speak on several occasions at the State of the Valley Conference. The man has his fingers on the pulse of innovation and trends in the Valley, and he was here June 2 stumping for innovation to take a more prominent role in our economic development.

For some time, there has been a discussion amongst our local visionaries about being that friendly and encouraging place for those willing to take the chance to succeed, or fail, on a dream—to create an incubator for innovators. The seeds of innovation were already here with our cadre of established innovators. Maybe openly promoting Morgan Hill as a place friendly to innovation will act as a catalyst and fertilizer to push us to be known as the new home for innovation.

Let innovation grow in a place known for its fertile fields.

John McKay is president of the Morgan Hill Downtown Association, city planning commissioner and co-founder of the Morgan Hill Tourism Alliance. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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