If there's a road map to Rust Belt renaissance, a model of postindustrial success, it may be in Buffalo's one-time steelmaking soul mate, a city once described as hell with the lid off.The leaders of the world's economic powers convened there Thursday for the two-day Group of 20 summit, prompting the question, "Why Pittsburgh?""It's a wonderful story of redemption, renewal and renaissance," said David M. Shribman, executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.It's also a story of pitfalls and stereotypes and of a city still facing serious economic challenges."There's still litter on the streets, you can't fly anywhere from our airport, and it's still hard to keep our young people here," Shribman added. "Having said that, there may not be a better place to live in the United States."
Pittsburgh's big moment in the sun and Mr. Shribman mistakenly laments the outmigration problem. This is Pittsburgh's Cleveland Moment, the inexplicable tendency to torpedo your own city about a shortcoming that isn't even true. It's a baffling approach to economic development and improving a region.
There is rhyme and reason to my Monday rant. Michigan Future relays a piece of news that should concern any Rust Belt city:
Important Nathan Bomey article on AnnArbor.com. It’s entitled “University of Michigan microcontroller startup leaving Michigan for Texas”. The reason: not enough talent here. That’s right, not enough talent in our supposedly high tech mecca Ann Arbor. As Bomey writes: The firm, Ambiq Micro, determined that the Austin region offered the best chance of landing the talent to advance its integrated circuitry technology, which improves energy efficiency in wireless electronic applications. ...... The lesson we need to learn is if you care about the Michigan economy you had better care about the location decisions of mobile talent. And that mobile talent increasingly is concentrating in big metros with vibrant/high density central cities. No vibrant/high density central cities, no prosperous Michigan. It is the straight forward!
Perceptions matter. Mesofacts drive migration and company relocation decisions. Not only is Ann Arbor in Detroit's shadow, many people think the area suffers from brain drain. That includes local people who run or fund start ups. The hysteria over outmigration has a serious negative impact on the bottom line.
CEOs are just as susceptible to geographic stereotypes as anyone else. Would you move your business to the brain drain belt of the United States? Yet this is how shrinking cities choose to present themselves to the world. Never mind that the migration data suggest the exact opposite to be the case.
You best wire me money or your youngins are gonna leave! It reads like extortion given the ignorance. Regions are paying to chase away companies. They are also scaring away talent. Who wants to move to a place that everyone is leaving?