Like places, talent pools should aim to be more distinctive. In Albany, you'll find nanotech expertise. That's great news for growing nanotech companies. These jobs aren't going to follow college-educated twentysomethings to Portland. But how can a region stock esoteric talent without the right opportunities already in place? Graduates will go where the opportunity is.
Albany is a story of talent production attracting employers. Jobs chase superstar professors and top-notch research programs. Economic development professionals are wise to this game. That's why you see multiple places competing for the same cluster. There's a smarter way to skin this cat. Exporting talent:
As part of a 2009 agreement, UGA and the University of Liverpool have conducted collaborative research on African diasporas, migration, genomics, marine science and many other subjects. They also operate student and faculty exchanges, according to Jane Gatewood, UGA's director of international partnerships.
This week, the Athens Downtown Development Authority approved $10,000 in funding for an Athens franchise of Liverpool Sound City, a three-day festival started in the U.K. that melds music, media, technology and entrepreneurship.
"It's access to markets. It's access to capital. It's access to expertise," said Kristen Hirst, who represents Liverpool Vision, the city's economic development arm, in Atlanta.
Liverpool sends its best and brightest to the University of Georgia. At some point, graduates return home and start businesses. Talent migration is reciprocal, not a zero-sum game. The journey links two places economically. This is the geography of the emerging Talent Economy.
Liverpool doesn't have to be all things to all local aspiring college graduates. It can build up a unique talent pool abroad, the kind of expertise that will attract a certain kind of company. Atlanta and Liverpool are talent trading partners. Both economies grow because of this exchange. It's not density. It's not urban amenities or cool. It's migration. People develop, not places.