Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Managing Cleveburgh Human Capital

While Ed Glaeser is getting ready for a showdown in Buffalo, he made a low profile appearance in Cleveland. After listening to Glaeser's talk at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Chris Varley takes a stab at answering my riddle:

I think Ed has an answer for Jim. Or at least part of one. Not all cities that invest heavily in human capital will thrive, but any city that does not is guaranteed to perish. Developing talent is no longer about building a fixed workforce that will stay in one place forever. Rather, it is about managing and growing the flow of smart people into and through your community in ways that make it possible for some of them to stick, to create new industries, and by so doing begin to attract other smart people to come to your city and stay.

Portland, Oregon might be a good example of this approach. In the Pittsburgh case, you would expect strategies to help university students stick. H-1B visa reform could be one piece of that puzzle. Regardless, the idea is to develop human capital in order to attract human capital (not retain it). Keeping those people and attracting more stems from job creation. That framework tells me plenty about the types of domestic and international immigrants Cleveburgh should be targeting.

I would actively promote out-migration, sending the best talent to work with Cleveburgh expatriates in the most economically vital world cities. Some of that brain drain is bound to turn into brain circulation if the diaspora network is cultivated. Deepening the links between Cleveburgh and businesses elsewhere is an added bonus.

We don't have to wait for the political leadership to embrace this perspective. Bloggers can create the necessary links and drive the network economy for Cleveburgh.

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