Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Brain Drain: Long Island

I'm curious about the brain drain plaguing the regions surrounding New York City. Is the Big Apple really all that? Long Island is reeling:

Long Island's brain drain is getting worse.

According to statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau, the region continues to have the highest rate of decline of residents 25-to-44 years of age in the state. The Island has lost 19 percent, or nearly 160,000, of its residents in that age group since 2000.

To compare, the average rate of decline in New York City was 2.24 percent, and the drop in the other New York suburbs was 14.43 percent, nearly 5 percent below Long Island's precipitous drop.

Nationally, the rate of decline for people between 25-and-44 years of age was 1.93 percent.

The city is where the young professional demographic resides. They are fleeing the burbs. However, NYC is a bit below the national average. There are a number of cities that would be shrinking if not for immigration.

The other part of the story is that Long Island has a lot of the costs of, say, Manhattan, but none of the benefits. Why pay for expensive real estate only to commute into the city? I'm wondering if Rust Belt cities have similar disparities between the core city and the burb periphery in terms of the 25-44 demographic.

Blog Release: Cleveburgh Regional Learning Network

From Janko:


Friday, November 7, 2008

9:00am to 4:30pm

At the Youngstown Club, Youngstown, Ohio

With generous funding from the Surdna Foundation, we are able to offer this event and transportation to Youngstown free of charge,

but participants must register in advance. Registration will begin Monday, October 6, 2008.

On the Agenda:

The Tech Belt Initiative – Cleveland, Youngstown and Pittsburgh

Keynote Address by:

Congressman Tim Ryan (confirmed), Youngstown, Ohio

Congressman Jason Altmire (invited)

Panel Discussion with:

Baiju R. Shah, President & CEO, BioEnterprise Corporation, Cleveland, Ohio

John W. Manzetti, President and CEO, Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Rich Lunak, President and CEO, Innovation Works, Pittsburgh, Pa.

How Vital Neighborhoods and Downtowns are Key to Economic Revitalization and Business Attraction

Telling Our Stories Effectively Interactive workshop with Dick Brooks, Action Media, Minneapolis, Minn.

Multi-neighborhood community development: a new model for delivery of services

Jo DeBolt, LaPiana Associates

Representative from Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development (PPND)

Community organizing / inspiring people to act

Mark Seifert, Executive Director, Empowering and Strengthening Ohio's People (ESOP), Cleveland, Ohio

Kirk Noden, the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative, Youngstown, Ohio

John Bixler, COO, Mon-Valley Initiative, Youngstown Ohio

Reports from Learning Exchange participants

Youngstown, Pittsburgh, Cleveland – over a dozen learning exchanges between these 3 cities have happened since our June gathering -

hear a quick update from some of the participants on their "take aways" from these unprecedented learning opportunities.

Buffalo Urban Laboratory

Ed Morrison over at Brewed Fresh Daily posted links to a number of interesting stories. All of them are excellent blog fodder, but the article about Buffalo is most relevant to my own crusade:

The idea that Buffalo could become a national laboratory dedicated to solving the vacant-housing crisis has its roots in Blueprint Buffalo, a two-year-old report developed by a team of experts and now touted by City Hall and local leaders.

Schilling gave new life to the proposal last month with a published article, “Buffalo as the Nation’s First Living Laboratory for Reclaiming Vacant Properties.” ...

... Supporters say the creation of a one-of-a-kind living lab would bring with it national talent and expertise, the likes of which Buffalo is not likely to have access to otherwise.

This vision for Buffalo is what I have in mind for Youngstown. Instead of studying the vacant properties problem, Youngstown would be a living laboratory for dealing with economic globalization. Youngstown is already attracting scholars from domestic and foreign universities. Of all the struggling Rust Belt cities, Youngstown strikes me as the least risk averse and potential hotbed for urban policy innovation.

As for Pittsburgh, I'm hoping my favorite city will be a living laboratory managing brain drain. The presence of Rand places enough talent in the region to make it the center of talent migration research. Also, Pittsburgh's impressive Diaspora makes for a best case scenario for the success of an urban alumni initiative that takes advantage of increasing geographic mobility, instead of fighting the flow.

At the other end of Cleveburgh, Richard Herman is the center of gravity for a living laboratory designed to figure out how to attract more immigrants. Mr. Herman has already advanced a few policy innovations garnering national attention. However, both Cleveland and Pittsburgh are much more risk averse. Getting stakeholders in either city on board won't be easy.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Rust Belt Diaspora: Charlotte

Fleeing hard times in states such as Ohio, people from the Postindustrial Heartland continue to flock to Charlotte, NC:

Midwestern Rust Belt states accounted for more newcomers in 2007 than the previous year, with Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania entering the list of top six places people moved from.

There are so many of the Burgh Diaspora residing there that Charlotte is sometimes referred to as "Pittsburgh South." Charlotte ending up as a hub for US Airways is more than symbolic. The ties between the two cities seem to get stronger each year.

Buffalo Trading Post

How might Rust Belt cities better plug into global trade? The first step is maximizing the opportunities already located in your backyard:

Over the past decade, geography, NAFTA and globalization have conspired to create a bigger opportunity for Buffalo and Western New York. Thus far, unlike the residents of Buffalo in the 1800s, we have not taken advantage of it. And like most opportunities, this one won’t last forever.

The opportunity being presented to us is to attract overseas companies that currently import goods into North America. We can combine our advantageous location with our rail infrastructure and substantial trade and logistics sector to attract these companies.

The Rust Belt could take advantage of globalization if the region first stopped spending so much energy fighting it.

Blog Release:Globalization Youngstown

The seminar is slated for today, so I'm probably too late with my alert:

A group of East High School students will have an opportunity to discuss education with a group of young leaders from Asian and Pacific Rim countries.

The 18th New Generation Seminar, sponsored by The East-West Center, will be in Youngstown on Monday and will meet with seven selected students at East as the group explores “The Politics of Globalization.”

The seminar is made up of leaders age 20-30 from Cambodia, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam and the United States. Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams is one of the 17 panelists.

Seminar participants explore the perceptions, politics and realities of the impact of globalization in the United States and how election-year politics affect popular opinion, shape globalization debates and influence national policies.

Participants will examine these issues firstand in a visit to Youngstown, a Rust-Belt manufacturing town that is emblematic of the economic, political, social and cultural challenges posed by the global economy.

The East-West Center is an education and research organization created by the U.S. Congress in 1960 to strengthen relations and understanding among the peoples and nations of Asia, the Pacific and the United States.

Each year the East-West Center invites rising young leaders from the United States and Asia Pacific to participate in The New Generation Seminar, a two-week intensive educational, dialogue and study-tour travel program that provides participants with an opportunity to strengthen their understanding of Asia Pacific — U.S. developments and challenges, build a regional network and to become leaders with a more international perspective.

The first week of the program is in Hawaii, and the second involves field travel to either the United States or Asia Pacific for exploration of the program theme.

This year, the group is traveling to Youngstown, Cleveland and Washington, D.C.

The first New Generation Seminar was in 1988, and since then a total of 262 participants from 24 Asia Pacific countries and the United States have participated in 17 seminars.

In addition to Williams, this year’s U.S. participants are William Campos, legislator, Prince George’s County Council, College Park, Md.; Joseph Earl Dorman, Oklahoma state representative and assistant Democratic floor leader; and Timothy Keith Moore, North Carolina state representative.

I wanted to post the above article for my own reference. I think Youngstown is in a unique position to require its students to learn about global civics and globalization.

Urban Frontier Hypothesis

Sean Safford wonders if New York City is heading down the same road as Youngstown, OH. Actually, Mr. Safford sees two possible Rust Belt paths for the Big Apple to take in the midst of the credit crunch gouging the financial industry:

The question is whether it will go the road of a Youngstown (i.e., struggling, still, to recast its identity in what is now a globalized, knowledge driven world) or whether it will be more like an Akron, Pittsburgh or Allentown; places that aren't exactly thriving but have adapted and are doing ok.

I've reread that post more than a few times and my reactions are all different. This past weekend, I settled on a foil, Charlotte, NC:

But there's no longer anything trifling about Charlotte. With $2 trillion in assets being managed from the glossy bank towers of Tryon Street, the city is now the nation's No. 2 financial center behind New York City. In early September, Bank of America, the behemoth of North Tryon and the largest U.S. bank, swallowed the beleaguered investment firm Merrill Lynch, while Wachovia, its competitor on South Tryon, considered a merger with Morgan Stanley. And while the rest of the country is sinking, Charlotte is soaring, with 28 construction cranes downtown. It's got the nation's least-battered metropolitan-housing market, lowest office-vacancy rates and fastest-growing airport. It hosts the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats and the NFL's Carolina Panthers. Its center-city population has doubled since 2000, and its light-rail system, just a year old, is already approaching its ridership goal for 2025. Meanwhile, ribbon-cuttings are scheduled for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, three museums, a theater and an African-American cultural center by 2010.

If whither NYC, then whither Charlotte? Charlotte is a frontier boomtown, not a mature alpha world city like London. Power brokers, such as those in Pittsburgh, won't let the global urban elite decay as Youngstown has done. In this era of globalization, that would seem to be a bad idea. Look at the geographic variance in the economic success of Chinese cities:

What explains these differences? Being near the coast is a help in China, because of access to external ideas and because coastal areas were permitted to experiment with reform first. An intriguing pattern is that governance is best in coastal cities that had very little industry when reform began in 1978. Shenzhen now has the highest per capita GDP in China. The same holds in Jiangmen, Dongguan, Suzhou--all were industrial backwaters in 1978, and responded to China's opening by creating good environments for private investment and learning from outsiders. Cities that already had industry tended to protect what they had and reform less aggressively.

Using the above model, I would expect Charlotte to better weather the storm. But I would also expect Youngstown to be in a better position "to recast its identity in what is now a globalized, knowledge driven world." On the other hand, Pittsburgh's future doesn't look as bright because there was something left to protect when big steel collapsed. The sitaution in Cleveland seems to be even worse than it is in Pittsburgh. Neither pole of Cleveburgh is well known for political reform. As a booster of Pittsburgh, I look to Youngstown.

What Black and Gold Can Do For You

In his Post-Gazette Diaspora Report, Bill Toland wonders what Pittsburgh expatriates can do for the homeland:

Even if bringing natives back can't be our ultimate goal, the Pittsburgh Diaspora no doubt can be a channel of communication between those who are here and those we hope to bring here one day. But what's the message?

Ideally, the message would be about the opportunities existing in the Pittsburgh region. But I doubt those words would have much impact coming from someone who left. Bill is trying to figure out how the Burgh Diaspora could increase domestic and international in-migration to Pittsburgh, but former Pittsburghers might be as clueless about the strong value propositions in existence as, apparently, outsiders are.

What is the value proposition of going to Harvard, or any other highly selective university? People are begging to go there with someplace else in mind. Harvard is an excellent stepping stone to bigger and better things. Perhaps of greatest use is the network of alumni who will help you get a great job.

My blasphemous idea is to reinvent Pittsburgh not into a destination for talent, but a key stop in your climb up the global ladder. Pittsburgh residents, and businesses, can take advantage of the global network of expatriates. The approach is similar to the Pittsburgh Promise. People are attracted to the City of Pittsburgh in order to provide their children with better opportunities. I'm looking forward to hearing the conspiracy theories about how the Pittsburgh Illuminati are setting the new world order.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Geography of Fear

While I was a graduate student, I took a couple seminars about the geography of economic development. The orientation was decidedly international. We were being trained to do research abroad. I was uncomfortable with what I perceive to be a type of cultural imperialism. I was interested in promoting human rights, but locals don't take kindly to outsiders telling them what they should do. The best advocates for human rights are the people who live there.

I was reminded of this while reading an article about the value of suburbanites actively helping communities in Detroit:

Through most of college, I thought working in international development would be the best way for me to make the world a more just place -- until someone asked me a difficult question: "Why are you so focused on international issues? You live a half an hour away from one of the poorest, most disenfranchised cities in America. Why aren't you working there?"

The question troubled me. When I answered it honestly, the answer was fear. It was a fear that, when traced to its roots, was born out of years of tension between the city and the suburbs -- the effects of poverty, racism, inequality and injustice.

Strange how half an hour away can be such a greater distance than half a world away. For whatever reason, troubles in a nearby inner city aren't as romantic as destitution in another country. For you social theorists out there, I see an entrenched post-colonial geography at work.

As for the fear, this is the geography of Deliverance. Mythology fills up the space of the lesser know parts of our intimate world. Dehumanizing stories about asocial behavior literally scare you from going to a place where you can't trust anyone. Folk tales are an effective way to transmit knowledge across generations and help you identify other people you can trust. If someone shares your heritage tale, then you she or he will help you.

Communities can only cover so much territory. So, the demonization of inner-city Detroit probably doesn't extend to every other country in the world. There is some anxiety about traveling abroad, but the fear is vague enough to facilitate the adventure. Thus, suburban Detroit often is more connected to regions thousands of miles away than the neighborhoods ringing downtown.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Skilled Immigrants Call The Tune

Attracting talent is only the first step. Once the geographically mobile arrive, your city or country must labor to keep them. Canada is learning this lesson the hard way:

About 40% of our economic immigrants leave within a few years because they're so disappointed in the Canadian experience. Considering Canada takes in about 140,000 economic-class immigrants yearly (more than half of our annual intake of permanent residents), that's a staggering loss of talent.

Newcomers -- especially skilled workers and wealthy business-class immigrants -- simply have much higher expectations than they did in the past. If Canada doesn't live up to their dreams, well, they just move on. And Canada loses out.

"We have a very globalized world now so people will go where the jobs are," says Naomi Alboim, an immigration expert with the School of Policy Studies at Queen's University.

Can policy keep up with economic migration? Australia continues to churn out a number of innovations in order to attract talent. The country is also a global leader for studying the flows of human capital and the battle for their skills. If the will was there, then I think Rust Belt cities could follow Australia's lead and learn from Canada's mistakes.

A few words of caution: Geographic mobility continues to increase and the sooner regions embrace out-migration as a fact of life, the better. Work with the migration patterns, not against them.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Steelers Nation Economy

According to the Economist, LinkedIn is a very busy social network in the midst of the current financial turmoil. Xing is LinkedIn's European rival, but both websites are a good place to do business:

LinkedIn is well on its way to becoming the networking site of choice for English-speaking businesspeople with global connections. But this does not mean that Xing will get squeezed out. If it plays its cards right, it could become the European alternative that takes more account of cultural differences in the way business is done.

Following the advice of a successful Pittsburgh entrepreneur, I settled on LinkedIn as the platform to network the Burgh Diaspora. Our IntoPittsburgh group on LinkedIn is on the cusp of 600 members. Recently, LinkedIn added a discussion feature, which has enjoyed active use among those folks IntoPittsburgh. People are using this network to boomerang back home and find jobs. The amount of intereaction surprised me.

However, the Steeler Nation group serves a similar function and is eqaully popular, if not more so concerning membership discussion. For the most part, these are business people who enjoy talking Steelers, but not much else. A recent study suggests that we shouldn't expect fellow fans to engage in anything beyond sharing the Steelers experience.

After reading Jim Wexell's new book about Steelers Nation, I'm less inclined to agree with the above research results. During Wexell's tour, we learn that Paul Sams (the man behind World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment) was able to do business with Thomas Tull (the man behind The Dark Knight and Legendary Pictures) because both men are Steelers fans:

Blizzard employees wear an ID tage fastened to a lanyard, and Sams' "is a Steelers lanyard that I wear every day." So when Tull, another lifelong Steelers fan, walked into the room, he noticed Sams' Steelers lanyard. Tull thought he was being set up, that this was being done to gain his favor. He was a bit miffed before realizing it was no set-up.

"We ended up hijacking the first 45 minutes of the meeting talking about the Steelers," Sams said. "I've got executives all there, but it was like there was no one elsein the room except me and Thomas. All we were talking about was the Steelers.

"Honestly, we joke about it now, but really what pushed us over the edge, to feel like we could have a trust, was because we had this bond of being Steelers fans. Everything after that came very easy because there was an immediate trust."

The result of that trust is that Legendary Pictures will get to make the World of Warcraft movie. That trust made the transaction possible. That trust could drive a Steelers Nation economy.

Rust Belt Chic: Pittsburgh

Via Null Space, I see that Pittsburgh is [finally] getting younger. The article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is a good balance of data and anecdotes. The numbers are encouraging, though I share Chris Briem's measured enthusiasm (see his quote in the Trib article). Regardless, I notice evidence that Pittsburgh's buzz stock is on the rise:

Katrina Struloeff came to Pittsburgh from Oregon for a graduate degree and stayed for the scenery, affordable living and the social and civic opportunities that larger cities don't generally offer young adults.

"You're not just another face in the crowd," said Struloeff, 24. "You can find your niche and get involved fairly easily."

Ms. Struloeff articulates the heart of Rust Belt Chic: Opportunity in an urban frontier. Young adults can shape the city, enjoying the benefits of being a big fish in a small pond. Austin, Seattle, and Minneapolis were like this in the early 1990s. Furthermore, Pittsburgh is getting younger while most other cities are aging.

I'm still amazed that Pittsburgh has done so well with the demographic deck stack against it. I predict that the region will continue to enjoy relative economic prosperity over the next decade or so. The Burgh is back.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Brain Drain: New Jersey

Is talent mostly coming or going? New Jersey isn't sure:

Star-Ledger readers recently were confronted with seemingly contradictory assertions about the consequences of the domestic migration patterns that affect NJ. The contradiction appeared in two articles on the same front-page of the "New Jersey" section. One story reported on an alleged "brain DRAIN" that NJ is experiencing. The other story reported on a "brain GAIN."

The author of the above article goes on to describe how the misunderstood issue of brain drain is used to sell tax payers on some new program or initiative:

NJ's public higher education community uses the "brain drain" argument to advocate for policies that they insist will encourage more NJ residents to choose NJ schools. ...

... The report's touting of brain gain was a pathetic attempt to justify state government policies that have made NJ an unattractive place to live and an undesirable place for businesses to expand and locate.

I very rarely see such a nuanced understanding of talent migration reported in the popular press. The picture is complicated, which is all the more reason to approach policy formation carefully. Weekly, I read stories about states and cities throwing money at a red herring.

Blogging about this issue for over two years, I've learned how difficult it is to piece together the nature of the problem. I am confident that the brain drain hysteria plaguing Pittsburgh is unfounded, but the labor market is confusing and full of contradictions. For example, just because job creation is anemic does not mean that there isn't a talent shortage. I also have no doubt that a region or state can experience both brain drain and brain gain. Just looking at different sectors of the economy would make that perspective obvious. Unfortunately, our leadership is failing to present us with these numbers.

Sticky Detroit

GLUE provides some press for a Detroit-based initiative named Fusion. A major reason for the shrinking of Rust Belt cities is that the population is aging. Fusion's mission:

Fusion will serve as the premier organization attracting and retaining young professionals and new business. To proactively shape the future workforce of the region, as well as building up the next generation of leaders, Fusion will:

  • Build relationships between future generations, businesses and the community
  • Focus on attracting and retaining talent to the Detroit Region
  • Develop, educate and motivate the future leaders of the region
  • Empower future leaders to take responsibility in the future of the region; economic and community development
  • Provide a voice on issues affecting young professionals
  • Work to make Detroit the place to live, work and play

How is this initiative different from existing ones in other Rust Belt cities? Fusion should take a look at the shortcomings of the Propel Pittsburgh Commission:

The 35-member Propel Pittsburgh Commission is dedicated to meeting the concerns and needs of the City of Pittsburgh’s young adults and young professionals. Composed entirely of members aged 20-34, and chaired by the Mayor himself, the objective of the Commission is to encourage greater participation in government, identify or create programmatic or policy opportunities in issues affecting young adults and young professionals in Pittsburgh, and to inform various elected and appointed officials representing young people about issues specific to them. The Propel Pittsburgh Commission will help to give the young adults and young professionals of Pittsburgh a major role in moving the City of Pittsburgh forward.

The "function" of Propel Pittsburgh isn't expressly designed to retain and attract young professionals, but that goal is the primary reason this commission exists. Propel Pittsburgh and Fusion seem to me to be going about this in the same way. We'll see if Fusion can sustain its energy better than Propel Pittsburgh did.

I don't think anyone can change Detroit to keep people from leaving. However, I am all in on trying to attract more young adults to any Rust Belt city. Regarding the Fusion forums, they reach out to the wrong audience. These idea expeditions should be held in other Rust Belt cities.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Craddle To Grave Rust Belt

The Rust Belt is full of shrinking cities. The most common reason for the decline is out-migration. People must work and the jobs are elsewhere. There was an exodus, but that's not the issue now. The Industrial Heartland is where the most inert Americans reside. It is also home to the smallest numbers of foreign born:

However, in certain areas of the country, the number of people who hail from abroad is astonishingly low. In Pittsburgh, for example, a city as well known in the 20th century for its Polish-, English-, Italian- and Irish-born communities as for its steel mills, only 3.1% of the population is foreign born, the lowest of the 40 metro areas measured here.

Cincinnati, Ohio, St. Louis, Mo., Indianapolis, Ind., and Cleveland, Ohio, round out the top five.

Why are there so few immigrants residing in Pittsburgh? Chris Briem points his finger at the glut of talent:

Christopher Briem, a professor at University of Pittsburgh who studies the history of migration in the city, as well as its current and historic demographics, says that despite the fact that the fall of Pittsburgh steel industry happened over 20 years ago, there is still a "labor overhang." In laymen's terms, there are too many people for too few jobs.

"Any demand in the region has been internally displaced," says Briem. "The number of colleges is disproportionate to a region our size." (The estimated population of Pittsburgh's metropolitan statistical area is 2.3 million for 2007, down 15% from 2.7 million 1970.)

While Pittsburgh produces plenty of skilled graduates--some of whom have traveled from as far as India and China to attend the city's world-class colleges, including Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pittsburgh--the job market, which today primarily consists of health care and technology positions, simply isn't big enough to provide work for all qualified candidates.

I'm taking liberties with Mr. Briem's explanation. Forbes Magazine states the common thread linking all the cities is a lack of job opportunities. Obviously, that situation exists in Pittsburgh. Job growth would seem to be a strong predictor of immigration destination. But the direction of causality is still a mystery.

I think the problem (if you see it in that light) is that too few people leave cities such as Pittsburgh. I've come to this conclusion looking at out-migration rates and average wages. The people currently living in the Rust Belt aren't inclined to leave, even if the pay is much better elsewhere. This reinforces the prevailing parochial attitude and makes these shrinking cities even less attractive to newcomers. Chain in-migration has been effectively destroyed.

If Pittsburgh wants more foreign born to live there, then the region must export more of its locally cultivated talent.

Blog Release: Tech 50

From the Pittsburgh Technology Council:

The Pittsburgh Technology Council, now in its 25th year of operation, will feature 50 of southwestern Pennsylvania’s premier technology companies at its 12th annual Tech 50 awards on Thursday, October 16, 2008.

Presented in partnership with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, the awards recognize the premier companies among southwestern Pennsylvania’s technology sector, and it showcases small and large companies alike. Each year, the Tech 50 event honors those technology companies that demonstrated the strongest growth and advancement in product or sales success, financial strength, corporate citizenship, job growth and retention and innovative product or technology.

During the selection process, the Council surveyed the region for the most distinguished public and private technology-oriented companies. To be considered for the 2007 Tech 50, a company must be headquartered in the southwestern Pennsylvania counties of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Somerset, Westmoreland or Washington.

Brain Drain Report: Zero Sum Game

The Ohio exodus continues. Scrambling to stick a few more fingers in the talent dam, Columbus is churning out a fresh round of initiatives. Spearheading the charge is Compete Columbus. However, the telling quote comes from Urban Ventures:

"We believe that this age group is the creative energy and entrepreneurial spirit that drives the 21st-century economy," said Mike Brown, the city's Urban Ventures coordinator.

The city should try to keep or lure back young people who attended school or worked in their first jobs here, Brown said.

Plus ca change ...

In Wisconsin, the flagship university for the state located in Madison plans to reach out to graduates to reprise their college days:

A new partnership of the Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA) and Competitive Wisconsin Inc. (CWI) will encourage University of Wisconsin-Madison graduates to return to Wisconsin to live and work. The partnership is funded in part by a $25,000 grant from the Wisconsin Department of Commerce.

The grant will support targeted marketing efforts to reverse the state's so-called "brain drain" and increase per capita income in the state by matching Wisconsin businesses, regional partnerships or early stage investment groups with UW-Madison alumni to explore employment, advancement or investment opportunities in Wisconsin.

"Brain drain," you say? Not according to one study:

Despite all the talk of a "brain drain," most Wisconsinites never move out of the state, according to a new study. The study says if natives do move out of state, they are likely to come back.

The U.S. Census Bureau says 3 out of 4 adult Wisconsin residents who were born in America were born in the state. The figure ties Iowa for the 7th highest percentage of adult natives.

This is both good and bad, according to observers. Researchers with the Brookings Institution says more folks care about their communities because they have such deep roots here. But states with fewer natives tend to have higher population growth, like Florida and Nevada.

Within the state, Appleton has the highest percentage of natives still hanging around at 78 percent. Madison has the lowest percentage of natives at 63 percent.

Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna says Wisconsin needs to do a better job of attracting outsiders. He says it will happen slowly as the state drifts away from some of its manufacturing roots.

Hanna says Wisconsin has an excellent quality of life. One reason is that it doesn't take long to get to work. The Census Bureau says the state’s average commute was 21 minutes last year, the 38th longest in the country.

To be fair, Wisconsin is primarily talking about attracting talent, not retention. But one state's gain is another state's loss. There aren't enough people of working age to raise all economic boats. Usually, the United States can fall back on large numbers of immigrants, but other countries (notably Australia) are bending over backwards to steal a greater market share. Furthermore, America is settling into a protectionsit/isolationist mood. The fight for domestic graduates will only get more fierce.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Richard Florida's Failure?

Richard Florida has his boosters and detractors. Count his adopted city of Toronto as one of the skeptics. An article in the Globe and Mail details the disparity between Florida's rankings and those of the Milken Report measuring city health:

Would you expect to find, based on Mr. Florida, that San Francisco, his own top-ranked American city in 2002, now ranks 74th in a non-ideological ranking of the 200 largest U.S. cities? And that San Diego, his own No. 2, now ranks 65th? And that Boston, his own No. 3, now ranks 118th?

What might I make of these numbers? I am reminded of the floating baseline problem facing scientists trying to improve meteorological data. I was privy to the early evaluation of wind profilers. How could we tell if the numbers we were seeing were better than what we were currently using?

Memphis came up with an interesting way to relate the two data sets:

The [Milken Report] is often used by the private sector to evaluate locations for new businesses and expansions, and on the public sector side, officials use the rankings to identify strategies that are needed for economic development. The rankings were comprised of jobs growth, wage and salary growth, short-term job growth, relative high tech GDP growth, high-tech GDP location quotient, and number of high-tech GDP LQ>1.

Memphis did not finish in the top 100 in even a single category, and in the number of high-tech GDP, Memphis was #181, which seems to be the highest hurdle that we need to clear.

It shouldn’t have been this way. Memphis was the first city to apply the research of Richard Florida (before he’d even published his now-famous book on the creative class) in an effort to develop a city that attracts and retains creative workers. Then, Memphis Manifesto Summit (now printed in Dr. Florida’s book) convened 135 “creatives” in our city to write their manifesto for cities seeking them as citizens and workers. Finally, the first research about 25-34 year-olds and recommendations for cities seeking them began here (in collaboration with Portland economist Joe Cortright).

The suggestion seems to be that if Memphis followed the advice of Richard Florida, then Memphis should rise in the Milken rankings. Dr. Florida would be the best person to answer this charge. Given my own understanding of Florida's work, I'd expect the cities scoring well in the Creative Class indices to attract more domestic migrants, particularly the young and well-educated adults. Whether or not that should translate into a better score in the Milken index, I'll leave that for others to judge.

Are the Milken numbers a fair measure of Richard Florida's plan for Memphis?

Rules of Retention

Via the Advance Northeast Ohio blog, some Ohio lawmakers have the brilliant idea to pay brains to stay:

The proposal would offer nonrefundable state income tax credits to Ohio educated college gra-duates. They would have to commit to staying in the state for at least five years to help build a skilled work-force to entice new businesses to invest here.

State Rep. Jay Goyal of Mansfield, 27, the youngest Democrat in the Ohio House, and State Rep. Josh Mandel, 30, of Lyndhurst, the youngest Republican, had a news conference Wednesday to announce the proposal, which hasn't been officially introduced.

The bill would award state income tax credits that would be claimed over a 10-year period -- up to $5,000 for an associate's degree, $20,000 for a bachelor's degree and $30,000 for master's degree level work or higher.

How many graduates would stay in Ohio regardless of whether or not there is a tax credit? They would all be eligible for the same benefit. There is also mention of using this policy to attract talent. How many people with post-secondary degrees are already moving to Ohio?

Not to worry ... These politicians have the numbers all figured out:

"We need bold action so Ohio can reverse this exodus of young talent."

It's estimated each additional graduate retained or attracted would generate an estimated $500,000 in state and local tax revenues over 25 years.

Goyal said that translates to a return on Ohio's investment of about 2,000 percent, for a graduate with a bachelor's degree.

The above is some impressive accounting and just what the voters want to hear.

Rules of Attraction

The migration of artists and the process of gentrification is a story well-known to advocates of attracting the Creative Class. But there is a price to be paid for this type of urban renewal: Displacement of lower-income residents. Artists are not immune to such pressures, often on the lookout for better real estate bargains and more affordable city living:

Today, I live in a Chinatown co-op and paint in a walk-in closet. I have no place to show my art in Vancouver. The lack of mid-range galleries has forced me to take my art south where I almost completely show these days. It’s hard to admit that I’m part of the brain drain into the U.S., but I went where the work was requested.

I admit I’m doing better than most, but I’m finding it very difficult to work in the tiny space that I call my studio. The more work I find, the harder it becomes to scale up my progress.

I’ve now begun to look at completely leaving the city. It’s been a tough personal decision. Many people are choosing to move away because they will never afford own a home, a studio, or a business here. It’s upsetting, because most artists can't do the work they love in the city they live in.

The "exodus" of artists from expensive Vancouver helps to explain the draw of Paducah, KY. Artists will always need new urban frontiers to gentrify and the Rust Belt is now full of such places. Already, creative nomads are packing up the wagons and heading to Detroit.

A lack of tolerance isn't pushing people out of Vancouver and open-mindedness isn't attracting artists to Paducah. Artists like to live near a bunch of other artists, ideally on the cheap. That's how I would explain the preponderance of sculptors living in Loveland, CO. But as more and more people discover the high quality of living in the Front Range, even Loveland will reach a tipping point.

Eastward ho!

EU-Canada Free Trade Zone

Barack Obama best mind his populist rhetoric, particularly when it comes to globalization. Canada is tired of the anti-NAFTA remarks and is now turning to the European Union for improved trade relations:

But such an agreement will go even beyond NAFTA, and has to in order to be successful, as previous attempts fell apart because they did not go far enough. A primary concern is provinces allowing European companies to bid on contracts on a level playing field with Canadian companies. The trade agreement would also allow free movement of skilled workers.

The prospect of greater labor mobility between Canada and Europe would be mutually beneficial if the agreement resulted in less brain drain to the United States. In fact, immigration from the United States to Canada might increase thanks to increased access to EU jobs. If protectionist sentiments deepen in the United States, then the chances of an agreement for Canada-EU free trade zone increase considerably.

Rust Belt states such monitor these negotiations closely. Enabling talent churn between members of the Industrial Heartland can reduce the out-migration from the mega-region. My goal is to make Cleveburgh a model for this approach to managing human capital assets.

Clarification: Rust Belt High Skill Immigration Zone

Richard Herman wrote me concerning a recent post about immigration:

Rehman's story is why I have mixed feelings about Richard Herman's proposal to uncap H-1B visas in the Rust Belt. Vivek Wadhwa contends that the most effective policy would be to speed up the Green Card process. If we can manage the needed immigration policy reform, then why not do for Ohio what Canada is doing for Alberta?

Richard reminded me that the policy prescription for the Rust Belt includes fast-tracking Permanent Residency status. Richard and Mr. Wadhwa are on the same page for immigration reform. However, the means of speeding up this process are still in the works.

I do appreciate the idea for creating a Rust Belt High Skill Immigration Zone because I figure the cap relief will encourage IT companies starved for talent to relocate in one of a number of shrinking cities. I'm already trying to imagine where the companies would prefer to relocate within the zone in order to benefit from the increased pool of foreign born workers.

Blog Release: CEO Forum on Innovation

From Carnegie Mellon University Drama:

Carnegie Mellon University and the Pittsburgh Technology Council

With the assistance of the United States Department of Commerce

Invite you to an event with Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez

CEO Forum on Innovation: Drivers and Impediments to the Development of Energy Technology

Monday, September 22, 2008

10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Please join us as a distinguished panel discusses innovation in today's enterprises and economies, sharing their lessons and insights on driving innovation and presenting their thoughts on how government policies can help or hinder innovation.

Welcome and Introductions

Audrey Russo, President and Chief Executive Officer, Pittsburgh Technology Council

Dr. Jared L. Cohon, President, Carnegie Mellon University


Carlos M. Gutierrez, United States Secretary of Commerce

Ashish Arora, Professor of Economics and Public Policy, H.J. Heinz School of Public Policy and Management


Dr. Aris Candris, President and CEO, Westinghouse Electric Company 

Murry S. Gerber, Chairman and CEO, Equitable Resources, Inc.

Andrew W. Hannah, President and CEO, Plextronics, Inc.

Free and open to the public

RSVP Required

Please respond by September 18th to: poprocky@andrew.cmu.edu

Rauh Studio Theatre

Purnell Center

Carnegie Mellon University

5000 Forbes Avenue

Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Parking is available in the East Campus Garage. For directions and maps, please visit


Friday, September 19, 2008

Fickle Geography of Talent

There is no insurance that Alberta's talent grab will solve the labor shortage. The best and brightest also tend to be the most geographically mobile. What Alberta works so hard to secure could move onward to spiky Toronto and the province of Ontario:

In the global and national competition to lure academic superstars, Ontario has gone to Alberta to poach a world-renowned neonatologist.

The Ontario government will announce today that Shoo Lee, who pioneered the Canadian Neonatal Network and has been working on an international one, will be relocating from the oil-rich province to become pediatrician-in-chief at Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital and head of the neonatology division at the University of Toronto.

The appointments are significant not only because of Dr. Lee's immense talents, but it is further proof that Canada has succeeded in reversing the brain drain and provinces are now scouring each other's backyards for top researchers.

Dr. Lee, who will move with his team of researchers in the new year, said going east was not a difficult decision.

"Alberta, because of all the oil money, certainly was able to make very attractive packages for people to go there - and they're still successful at it. ... But I think the reality is the depth of capacity and the infrastructure that has been built in Ontario over the years still exceeds anything anywhere else in the country," he said in a telephone interview yesterday from Argentina, where he was speaking at a neonatal conference.

In recent years, Alberta's energy boom has drawn some top names, including, more recently, Jack Mintz, former head of the C.D. Howe Institute who left his post at the University of Toronto for the University of Calgary. But Ontario, and, in particular, Toronto, with its cluster of research institutes, has lured the likes of Tom Hudson, a prominent geneticist, from Montreal, and stem-cell biologist Gordon Keller, who, just months before he arrived in 2007, was named by New York Magazine as one of the scientists New York could not afford to lose.

Gains in frontier boomtowns may be ephemeral as the gravity of alpha world cities is reinforced. However, Calgary shouldn't try to be the next Toronto. Nor should Toronto try to out-New York the Big Apple. The Urbanophile wrote an intriguing post about the niche of Indianapolis in the war for talent. The article of provocation describes the regional comparative advantage for Indianapolis, looking beyond the over-hyped talent pool of the Creative Class:

Cities have not been so smart, [Drew Klacik (a senior policy analyst at the Center for Urban Policy and the Environment, which is part of the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs in Indianapolis)] said, when they tried to chase the “creative class” [Richard] Florida identified. Florida, who is now a professor at the University of Toronto, suggested that “creative” people gravitated to cities with hip, bohemian neighborhoods that were tolerant and diverse.

So groups in several cities, including Indianapolis, cited Florida’s “creative class” theory in pushing for an ordinance against discrimination against gays, or making investments in cultural neighborhoods or encouraging the opening of more coffee shops and nightspots.

In a summary of his research, Klacik wrote, “… many cities and regions have repeated history and entered into a competition for the creative class, whomever they may be, encouraging the development of coffee shops and other ‘creative class amenities’ in much the same way they previously competed for industries using tax abatements and other incentives.”

Since the late 1990s, cities have begun to focus tax incentives on industries in which they already have strengths—such as the life sciences or advanced manufacturing—while letting other opportunities go. Klacik hopes that by identifying human clusters, cities can make a similar advance in their efforts to woo talented people.

“If we really want to support life sciences, how do we offer more of the amenities that tend to attract those kinds of people?” Klacik asked rhetorically. He hopes his research can provide an answer.

For me, Klacik's research makes clear the benefit of Rust Belt collaboration. When Alberta competes with Toronto over the same economic cluster and therefore the same pool of talent, Canada's ability to compete globally is hurt. Likewise, the Industrial Heartland doesn't seem to realize that much of the mega-regional talent circulates between shrinking cities:

Mostly, [Indiana residents] lose [electronics] jobs to other states like Michigan, Illinois, Tennessee and even Connecticut! Well over half the jobs lost go to other rust-belt states, many with higher tax/living/labor costs than our own. They're not leaving for the mountains of Colorado or even for the sun and palm trees of California. The No. 1 state destination for Indiana electronics companies is Ohio.
The Rust Belt Chic value proposition will catch on, but how does an outsider disquinish between opportunity in Erie, PA and Akron, OH? Cheap housing is a dime-a-dozen in this part of the country. The assets that boosters celebrate read the same, regardless of city. To the untrained eye (perhaps even to the trained eye) there isn't much geographic diversity and I think that is holding the mega-region back.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Update: Great White North Talent Grab

Via ImmigrationProf Blog, Canada (specifically Alberta) continues to poach frustrated US immigrants:

Fawad Rehman can't wait to show his adoptive country his entrepreneurial streak.

Rehman, an immigrant from Pakistan, plans to start a business school, similar to the one his family runs back home, and a construction business.

A big obstacle stands in the way, though: He doesn't know which country will adopt him, the United States or Canada.

Rehman, 29, an information technology consultant who lives in Columbia, Md., is in this country on a temporary H-1B visa, the kind issued to skilled workers for up to six years. He wants to become a permanent resident.

But he isn't sure if or when that will happen. So, about a month ago, he applied to become a permanent resident in the province of Alberta, Canada, through a special program that fast-tracks applications from skilled immigrants in the United States. If he qualifies, he could be approved in less than a year.

Rehman's story is why I have mixed feelings about Richard Herman's proposal to uncap H-1B visas in the Rust Belt. Vivek Wadhwa contends that the most effective policy would be to speed up the Green Card process. If we can manage the needed immigration policy reform, then why not do for Ohio what Canada is doing for Alberta?

There might be good reason why such a program might not catch on in the United States. According to the US Government Accountability Office, the EB-5 is woefully under-utilized. I don't know if this program can keep pace with Alberta's aggressive quest for talent, but the H-1B limbo definitely outlines an opportunity for Rust Belt cities. The Industrial Heartland is far from do everything it can to compete and turn around the mega-regional economy.

Apparently, our loss is Alberta's gain.

Blog Release: A Cleveburgh Happening

From Great Lakes Urban Exchange:

That’s right, folks. Thanks to our friends at the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group, 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania, and the Regional Learning Network that convened in Youngstown earlier this year, a cohort of Clevelanders is making its way to the burgh on Friday.

We’ll talk housing, neighborhoods, and cross-pollination. Email abby@gluespace.org if you would like to join us in Pittsburgh at 3 PM.

Cleveburgh Labor Shed

A recent post over at Civic Analytics highlights a new toy from the US Census. Among the uses, the ability to map the extent of a functional region:

Defining regions by showing how central cities are dependent on surrounding areas for workers. Here's an example showing the labor shed for the city of Denver, where I'll be teaching a seminar with Sam Leiken from the Council on Competitiveness this week at the EDA Denver and Seattle Regional Conference.

By way of anecdote, the labor sheds for Cleveland and Pittsburgh are said to overlap in Youngstown:

Terry Abrams, executive director of the Homebuilders-Remodelers Association of the Mahoning Valley, said the cost of land in the Mahoning Valley is lower than in most other metro markets — which enables housing costs to be lower.

“We were never a part of the boom — we never will be,” he said. “But you really get more for your money here.”

A $300,000 house in the Mahoning Valley would cost about $450,000 in Cleveland or Pittsburgh, $600,000 in Denver, Colo., $800,000 in Washington, D.C. and about $1 million in San Francisco, Abrams said.

Youngstown is about 1-hour from Cleveland or Pittsburgh jobs. There are 3 airports within easy driving distance, but housing is about 50% more expensive (using the above numbers) in the bigger cities in either direction. While a 2-hour commute might strike most people as insane, central access to more than one labor shed is a great way to hedge your bets on a volatile globalizing economy. There are also emerging opportunities right there in Youngstown, not to mention nearby Akron. At the very least, Youngstown would be a great place to be self-employed.

Youngstown is also the battleground for the two major Cleveburgh cultural regions, best seen through the eyes of the Browns-Steelers rivalry. Touring Youngstown, Cleveburgh makes perfect sense. The connection to Cleveland is obvious, with the Plain Dealer prominently for sale. The face of Pittsburgh might be less obvious, until you step over the nearby border into Pennsylvania:

Mahoning Valley Steelers fans who won’t be in the stadium can watch the game from Billy’s Black and Gold, 514 Sharpsville Ave., Sharon, Pa.

“There will be no one here in Browns clothes,” said owner Bill Novosel of the crowd that will come out for Sunday’s showdown.

The game day dress code at Billy’s is stated clearly on the door: “ABSOLUTELY NO OPPOSING TEAM GARB-AGE.”

A walk into Billy’s is like a trip to a different country — Steelers Country, where black-and-gold rules and Iron City beer flows like water.

Steelers memorabilia and murals of the Pittsburgh city skyline and sports heroes embellish the walls at Billy’s.

I have no doubt that Pittsburghers would feel very comfortable living in Youngstown. We also know there is a relatively large amount of human capital churn between Cleveland and Pittsburgh (the same is true for Youngstown-Cleveland and Youngstown-Pittsburgh). Regardless, the value proposition of residing in Youngstown is quite attractive.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Rust Belt Chic: Akron

When Pittsburgh isn't hip enough, there is always Akron:

[Ben] Vehorn had lived in Northern Virginia. He'd spent the '90s in Seattle. He and a friend considered moving to Pittsburgh. But Akron was cheaper than the Pacific Northwest and NoVa, and cooler than the Burgh. So Vehorn became an Akronite and small-business owner. He's a partner in Tangerine Sound Studios with Pat Carney, the drummer in the Black Keys, Akron's respected ambassadors to the international rock 'n' roll community.

Vehorn, who grew up all over the world as a military kid, was living in Delaware when he met the Keys at a show. The duo invited him to Akron, where singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach gave him a tour, showing him old industrial buildings and big lawns. Akron looked like his kind of place. Once he moved there, he couldn't believe his eyes when he saw the "Studio for Rent" sign on the former Neon Cactus complex, a big white-brick block in North Hill.

"It seems like an undervalued city," says the soft-spoken and focused Vehorn. With pointy tattoos on his forearms, long brown hair and plastic glasses, he looks like a smaller version of American Chopper's Mikey - but more likable and 10 times as smart. "The inherent value of the architecture, all these cool old houses that sell for nothing ... It's nice to not have all the traffic problems and people and pent-up urban angst. People seem more relaxed here. And it's beautiful - the parks and the weather."

While I don't have the trend-spotting cred of Richard Florida, I think something significant is going on in the Rust Belt. Place rankings look at yesterday's landscape, but say little about where people are now heading. I can see a day in the not too distant future when too much in-migration ruins Rust Belt Chic.

Pittsburgh Innovates

There is still time to enter the innovation contest, but the rest of us should get busy evaluating the ideas already posted. I'm partial to the distance-trust technological innovations. There are a number of companies that fit within this regional economic niche, but leading the way is my favorite Burgh start up: Etcetera Edutainment. Team Jessica Trybus has my daily vote.

Escape From New York

New York State continues to grapple with brain drain. I'm not seeing much in the way of bright ideas being exchanged, but voters are making sure politicians understand the concern. The focus is still on retaining native talent:

English major Rhagina Chislom of Mariners Harbor said she wants to "live and work in Jersey" upon graduation -- in part, because when she reviews job and housing opportunities in the classified section and online, "it's Jersey jobs and real estate."

"That's where we want to go," she added. "There are more opportunities there, jobs, housing, nightlife. Jersey has it all. Manhattan, who wants to travel? Going back and forth, two hours on the ferry, the tolls going up ... "

New Jersey may have it all, but even that state is worried about brain drain:

With the lack of seats and soaring tuition rates, the state loses more of its high school graduates to out-of-state colleges than any other state in the country, a "brain drain" that has gone "unchecked" for decades, they argue.

That brain drain is bad for the state's businesses and economy because companies are looking for local skilled workers, said Christopher Emigholz, director of Education & Workforce Development Policy for the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, which supports the colleges' campaign.

When will the absurdity end? In the New York case, the culprit is a group of Republican lawmakers who created RemaiNY:

Assembly Republican Leader James Tedisco (R,C-I-Schenectady-Saratoga) and his colleagues today announced the formation of RemaiNY, a series of regional forums charged with studying the reasons for the exodus of young people from the state and ways to make New York a more attractive place for them to find jobs, buy homes and raise their families.

RemaiNY belongs in the Political Hall of Shame in the wing with the rest of the red herrings and boondoggles such as Border Guard Bob. Politicians around the country keep trotting out pork barrel projects and nonsense legislation under the guise of keeping graduates from leaving the city, region, or state. Concerned citizens need to demand something better, something that might actually work.

Blog Release: Steelers Road Nation

A few of you readers might remember sportswriter Jim Wexell's tour of Steelers Nation. His book, Steeler Nation: A Pittsburgh Team, An American Phenomenon, detailing this journey is now available. Jim is an excellent storyteller and, ironically, the players take center stage. The men who play for the Pittsburgh Steelers create a different sort of diaspora in their hometowns, trasnforming those places into enclaves for Steelers Nation. Consider this excerpt about current defensive end (and reluctant superstar) Aaron Smith:

... Let’s start with Great Grandpa Smith. He was run over by a freight wagon and killed, so his son had it rough growing up 40 miles east of here in the town of Rush.

“No matter what we tell you about my father,” said Aaron Smith’s older brother Steve, “he was so much more milder on us than his father was on him.”

Aaron’s mom and dad lived with the four boys in Colorado Springs, but Mr. Smith’s construction partner cleaned out Smith’s accounts and left town. So when Aaron was six months old the family moved to a small farmhouse near Rapid City, South Dakota. The town was booming, so Mr. Smith was hoping to pile up a stake large enough to re-start his business as a general contractor.

Times were tough on the Smiths in South Dakota. “We were collecting aluminum cans for gas and we would road-hunt at night for rabbits,” said Dave, the oldest of the Smith boys. “I will not eat rabbit to this day.”

“But some of my best childhood memories were in South Dakota,” said Steve.

“Absolutely,” agreed Dave. “That was the best time. We lived on a 40-acre alfalfa farm and around the farm went a creek in a horseshoe shape, so we had our own little island of alfalfa farm, fishing, pigs, cows, playhouses. We had running water in it. It was absolutely wonderful at times, but it was also the hardest times we lived through as a family.”

Mr. Smith soon developed diabetes and was told he only had a year or two to live, so the family moved back to Colorado to be closer to the rest of the family. Aaron was three at the time, and the diabetes turned his father into a tyrant. ...

The tales weave a number of landscapes into the fabric of the Pittsburgh Steelers, challenging the notion that the Dallas Cowboys are "America's Team." I'd wager that interesting backgrounds lurk under the helmets of any NFL franchise, but Jim appreciates the Steelers mystique: An identity that resonates with people who have never been to Pittsburgh. Current players seem to be decendants of the great players playing for the Steelers during the 1970s. The continuity over multiple decades is astounding.

However, the foundation for the Steelers tradition is carried in the hearts of fans. The exodus of the 70s and 80s is the primary reason that wherever you go, you can find a Steelers bar. For better or for worse, these fans are the keepers of Pittsburgh's blue collar mythology. The city has undergone 3, maybe more, transformations since the heyday of steel production. In Steelers Nation, we see the personification of the plight of the Rust Belt. The Pittsburgh Steelers are the face of the economy that used to be and the economy that is emerging.