Entrepreneurs like Craig Newbold, a software developer who grew up locally in the town of East Liverpool along the Ohio River between Youngstown and Pittsburgh, are betting on the area's future. Newbold returned home after retiring from an information technology career in Seattle to found software development firm Newbold Technologies in 2003, with the aim of creating local opportunities."To me, areas like this have a lot of diamonds in the rough," said Newbold, whose father made his living running a local filling station in the area once known as the ‘pottery capital of the world.' "People that want to live here have the aptitude and the ability, but need to be developed."His 30-man operation, which specializes in enterprise applications for corporate clients, hires workers from rural areas and trains them alongside seasoned professionals. Newbold also founded a small technical school — NewLife Technical Institute — to provide certificate programs such as software development and medical transcription."We've created a domestic option to the Indian market," said Newbold. "What we're doing is creating an opportunity, at least in the technical field, for people to stay here."
I'm seeing more and more people like Newbold show up in the news for this part of Northern Appalachia. And if the above article is correct, Ohio is working to attract more Rust Belt refugees as agents of economic redevelopment. I would like to see similar initiatives pop up all around the Industrial Heartland.
While reading the above article, I'm reminded of the other TechBelt:
Among the region's positive features are abundant natural resources, major transportation routes such as the Ohio River and easy access to cities like Columbus and Pittsburgh. Perhaps most appealing to cash-strapped entrepreneurs are the comparatively low costs for rent and skilled labor.
I think the Columbus-Pittsburgh axis is more fertile for development than the Cleveburgh Corridor. Frankly, Cleveland/Akron seems unable to get its act together. More importantly, the hill country is culturally distinct from Greater Cleveland. I'm convinced that Pittsburgh and Youngstown belong together. Just ask Phil Kidd.
VXI, which just last October opened a inbound call center at 20 Federal Place, would need to be in its new space by August or early September to meet “some capacity requirements that are more immediate,” said Nick Covelli, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Los Angeles-based VXI. ...... VXI, which just last October opened a inbound call center at 20 Federal Place, would need to be in its new space by August or early September to meet “some capacity requirements that are more immediate,” said Nick Covelli, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Los Angeles-based VXI.
There is an expatriate connection to the VXI-to-Youngstown win, which how the company learned about the quality of the workforce in the Mahoning Valley. Now, MSNBC is touting the little-known entrepreneurial capacity:
Burghard said area residents, including many skilled laborers, have long demonstrated ingenuity in the face of limited resources and capital, from Prohibition-era whiskey stills to quilting, pottery and homemade canned goods. "If you look at the history of the region, it's marked by entrepreneurism — the concept of working for yourself," said Burghard, whose organization has been coordinating with local institutions such as Ohio University and the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio to help foster entrepreneurship.Youngstown, often associated with the depressed U.S. automotive industry, has been recognized as one of the top-10 cities for entrepreneurs by Entrepreneur magazine.
There is a lot of young talent hidden in those hills. More importantly for this particular post, there is a lot of talent that left itching to return. Some of them have already done so and could be enlisted to explain how the others can make the same journey. Think of it as a domestic expatriate incubator.