Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Nashville is the New L.A.

If "Nashville is the new L.A." then Pittsburgh is, without a doubt, the new D.C. A survey of recent IRS tax filing data identifies Los Angeles County as the number two source of in-migrants for Davidson County (Nashville). Speculation abounds as to what is driving this talent flow:

The population shift makes sense from an economic standpoint, but analysts can't pinpoint any one reason for it, said Sekou Franklin, urban studies professor at Middle Tennessee State University.

The trend of Californians resettling in the South has happened before, Franklin said. Blacks started returning in the 1990s — some coming back for retirement, others to reconnect with family who never left.

This time, housing seems like more of a motivator, Franklin said. Despite Southern California seeing its lowest median housing cost in the past several years — $285,000 — it's still cheaper to buy in Davidson County, Franklin said.

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, however, sees the new arrivals as a sign of the city's prosperity and evolution. He said the patterns should continue and perhaps accelerate in the coming years.

"Those migration patterns, particularly the influx from L.A., are not at all surprising," he said. "It's an affirmation of Nashville's position as a hub of creativity and economic opportunity. Because of the music industry here, we're somewhat known as the Third Coast."

I suppose that Pittsburgh should be able to cash in on California's real estate refugees, but the same IRS evidence suggest Washington, DC as a much more important source of talent for the region. This bit of migration trivia might explain why the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance is focusing its efforts in the Greater Baltimore-DC cooridor.

However, how many of the people moving to Pittsburgh from DC are boomerang migrants? I'm not sure that matters since Beltway brains are a logical target for Burgh headhunters regardless of native ties. That said, if Alliance isn't mining the Burgh Diaspora, then they would be better off raiding other Rust Belt cities to fill vacant positions.


The Urbanophile said...

I'm not impressed. First off, when Nissan relocated its headquarters, the right there prompted a material number of moves.

I just did a quick check based on 2000-2005 data, Marion/Hamilton Counties in Indy had a positive migration balance versus LA County to the tune of 768.

I speculate some of this is second degree Latino migration.

I also speculate that most similar sized cities in the Midwest have a positive migration balance with LA.

Jim Russell said...

I think Nashville is on the right track. Cutting through all boosterism, the city is leveraging an established migration stream. The relative importance of the LA talent pipeline is debatable. But I appreciate the attraction strategy. On its face, LA appears to be a good pairing for talent churn with Nashville.