John Kasich says that if you want to see a movie star, go to Hollywood.The former congressman, currently running for governor, said if you want to find a successful, job-creating, charitably giving Ohioan, go to Naples, Fla.The joke Kasich told Wednesday illustrated one of the largest issues facing Ohio: The consistent departure of young people and families, a so-called "brain drain.""They go anywhere they think they can have a better chance," he said. "We're losing our seed corn."
This misleading message is popular with voters. I wouldn't vote for Kasich. He's offering bad ideas about economic development.
There is a way to more constructively beat the brain drain drum. Exhibit A, Congressman Tim Ryan:
The Bridgestone/Firestone project came together only after the company struck a deal that included a $68 million public financing package from the state, county and city. There are also federal stimulus dollars involved, for nearby infrastructure repairs.The 260,000-square-foot new tech center along South Main Street maintains the company’s 110-year presence in the city. Though it still manufacturers racing tires locally, Firestone merged with Bridgestone in 1988 and moved it’s Rubber City headquarters to Nashville four years later.More importantly, as Congressman Tim Ryan put it - it helps place a stopper over the so-called Brain Drain.“Young people who have left this community want to come back here, and to see these jobs open up, these high-tech, well-paying jobs open up here, gives these young people an opportunity to come back to where they grew up.”
Implicit in the message is talent retention, but the boomerang angle is much more promising in terms of effective policy. Politicians don't like to talk about attracting outsiders. Luring expatriates home is a palatable compromise.
I'm reminded of Joe Cortright's sloppy analysis of the talent landscape in Akron. He offered a better mousetrap for retention, not realizing that the problem is attraction. He bought the hype and I'd bet so did most of his audience. Kasich is banking on it.