Thursday, December 02, 2010

Rebranding Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Technology Council is soliciting feedback concerning this column from President and CEO Audrey Russo. Audrey offers seven suggestions how the region can help small businesses and foster more entrepreneurship. The talent management part of the equation:

4. Pittsburgh has finally been able to hold a positive net migration, with some data pointing to our increase of young (25-34) people who are highly educated (college degree). Remembering that small businesses provide 85 percent of all jobs nationally, Pittsburgh HAS to ensure the creation of small businesses to ensure our talent remains here, the retention will attract others of like minds and interests.

5. We have the best and brightest people studying at our universities. Students in science and technology are more likely to leave the region after graduation than any other discipline. People who obtain secondary degrees are even more likely to leave the region. Our universities attract diverse populations, which does not mirror SWPA’s population. If we can keep the educated population, our educated workforce will also reflect more diversity. (CORO 2001)

I respectfully disagree. I see attracting talent as a way to ensure the creation of small businesses. Those who migrate are risk-takers, job creators. Retention is a sure way to weaken the local entrepreneurial community. If anything, Pittsburgh is too effective in its quest to discourage people from leaving.

I suggest embracing the geographic mobility of talent. The best and brightest leave every region. What is Pittsburgh doing to leverage that established flow? There are benefits to be had from outmigration as well as inmigration. We should revere those who relocate just as Audrey recommends that we celebrate those who fail and try again. Only then will a robust entrepreneurial culture thrive in Pittsburgh.

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