Thursday, July 30, 2009

Brain Drain Report

Been about a week. Time for another edition of the Brain Drain Report. First up, a critique of Ohio's latest brain drain boondoggle:

Details are still being cobbled together, but the Grants for Grads program is supposed to keep recent graduates from two- and four-year Ohio colleges in the state by contributing toward down payments or closing costs on their homes.

Those who remain at least five years won't have to pay back the state.

It's too bad the premise is faulty.

Post-graduation employment, not housing, is the chief concern of 89 percent of Ohio college students, according to a recent study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

A strong economic-development effort on behalf of all Ohio job-seekers, particularly the well-educated who are slipping away, is what would encourage more graduates to stay. More state-sponsored internships and co-ops that get college students' roots into Ohio soil would help, too.
Which reminds me ... How is Ohio Means Home doing these days? I fear everyone has already forgotten about it. That's too bad.

Other states -- like Indiana, North Carolina, and Illinois -- are competing with us for our children. We have to fight back.
That is why we should give our college graduates a three-year income tax exemption, putting money directly into their pockets. This tax credit would be an investment in Michigan's talented graduates and our economy. The funds could help pay down college debt, go toward a home and, most of all, serve as an incentive to use their education in Michigan.

This policy narrative is rife with misconceptions and bad recommendations. Think of state investment in higher education as the means to the end of attracting talent. But if the only way you can justify the tax dollars is to increase retention rates, then you might as well cut off the funding.

The 1950 graduate thought there had to be another solution to keeping professionals in the area, and he came to the conclusion telecommuting seemed like the answer.

So Clarkson started the Adirondack Initiative for Wired Work. With Mr. Gates's help, it recently founded a business center in Blue Mountain Lake to provide people with access to the Internet, phones and fax equipment as well as a meeting room. ...

... "The opportunities to tap into the knowledge economy are going to be huge, probably more so than the technology sector going forward. The Internet now is almost like a roadway as infrastructure," Ms. Chezum said. "We need to get people to think about this as a lifestyle choice."

To that end, Clarkson also is launching a marketing campaign encouraging people who love the Adirondacks to make the area their home — and their workplace. Their advertisements feature a bear and a raccoon working away on laptops from the comfort of a lakeside dock.

The aim is to keep talent in Northern New York, but the marketing campaign can reach a much larger demographic. Having lived a great deal of my childhood near Saratoga Springs, I'm intrigued. Also, my father knows Mr. Gates. I stayed in Gates' Blue Mountain Lake home for a brief family vacation. I love the Adirondacks. What I like best is Clarkson University at the heart of the initiative. That's what I mean when I write, "Think of state investment in higher education as the means to the end of attracting talent."

Purpose that alumni network for local economic development.

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