Monday, December 30, 2013

Suburban Sprawl Spurs Innovation

Want diversity and creativity? Moving to the suburbs at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Innovation geography.

Subject Article: "The Young, the Restless and Economic Growth: Countries with a younger population have far higher rates of entrepreneurship."

Other Links: 1. "My Own Private Metropolis."
2. "The artsy pulse of a city: The beat is moving to the burbs."
3. "Urban Minor Leagues of Globalization."
4. "Every Artist's Studio Is a Future High End Rental."

Postscript: Saint of Urbanity, Jane Jacobs once wrote, “Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings." Cities with good bones and the right density are centers of innovation. Jacobs privileges place over people. The diffusion of knowledge and subsequent innovation are considerably less romantic. People move and share ideas. City or suburb, old or new building, only migration matters.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Urban Minor Leagues of Globalization

Fleeing alpha global cities for more innovative geographies at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Convergence of the Innovation Economy.

Subject Article: "The Metro Areas With The Most Economic Momentum Going Into 2014."

Other Links: 1. "Displacing Education as the Most Important Asset for 21st Century City Growth."
2. "Economy, opportunity thinning restaurants' supply of cooks."
3. "Portland Restaurants, Tech Cafeterias Are Eating Up All Of S.F.'s Cooks."
4. "The artsy pulse of a city: The beat is moving to the burbs."
5. "My Own Private Metropolis."

Postscript: I often meander away from a post title, which isn't a problem. Just change the title to capture the emergent theme before clicking publish. I forgot to do that. No matter since this one post has two themes going on. The first part is how globalization is moving down the urban hierarchy (e.g. from San Francisco to Portland). The second part is how innovation and creativity are moving from the urban core to the suburbs, a reconfiguration of economic geography similar to that of restaurant talent moving from DC to Pittsburgh. I intend to take on that second theme more thoroughly in my next blog post using this article as the subject, "The Young, the Restless and Economic Growth: Countries with a younger population have far higher rates of entrepreneurship." The positive correlation between a younger population and more entrepreneurship makes the same mistake as those who emphasize the positive correlation between greater urban density and more innovation. Both perspectives overlook the impact of migration itself on creativity.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

San Francisco's Fortress Against Gentrification

Increasing the supply of housing makes gentrification worse at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Ironic demographics.

Subject Article: "Arise, Tenderloin: It is San Francisco’s most glaring contradiction, an island of need in a sea of prosperity. Can it be helped? Does it even want to be?"

Other Links: 1. "'Cool Gray City of Love,' by Gary Kamiya."
2. "Soaring rents force lifestyle changes."
3. "Move Silicon Valley to Cleveland."
4. "Of Course Uber Should Be Regulated."

Postscript: From the subject article, a possible link between government engineered gentrification and the reduction of crime:

To explain the unique policing challenge posed by the Tenderloin, Cherniss cites an analytical framework used by criminologists: the so-called crime triangle, which posits that crimes have three components—suspect, location, and victim. In the Tenderloin, “going after the suspects is pointless,” he says. “I need to get rid of the location to solve the problem.”

Emphasis added. That neatly sums up former NYC mayor, Rudy Giuliani's method of cleaning up the city. He got rid of the red light district Times Square, gentrifying the neighborhood for tourists. Chicago's mayor (Rahm Emanuel) is following the same script, knowing that going after the suspects is pointless. Emanuel will help other parts of his city gentrify as a solution to the crime problem.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Silicon Cleveland, Where the Rent Isn't Too Damn High

Innovation has already abandoned Silicon Valley at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Convergence of the Innovation Economy.

Subject Article: "Some Further Thoughts on Moving Silicon Valley to Cleveland."

Other Links: 1. "Rust Belt of Silicon Valley: San Jose Is Dying."
2. "A Creative Comeback in the Big Easy."
3. "A Snowier Silicon Valley in BlackBerry’s Backyard."
4. "Midsize Cities in Poland Develop as Service Hubs for Outsourcing Industry."

Postscript While the move of Silicon Valley to Cleveland got the blog post spotlight, economic convergence in Poland was the star:

In fact, Lodz, a former textile manufacturing center with a population of about 740,000, is just one of several Polish cities that have become service hubs for an international corporate clientele that values Poland’s well-educated and often multilingual work force.

In midsize cities like Wroclaw and Gdansk, Poles are doing back-office work not only for Indian outsourcing companies like Infosys, Wipro and Tata Consulting Services, but also for major corporations like IBM and banks including Citigroup and Bank of New York Mellon.

About 110,000 people work in what is broadly known as the business services industry in Poland. The category includes outsourcers like Infosys that take over such functions as finance or information technology for customers, as well as banks and other companies that set up in-house operations to do their own back-office work.

For me, Poland has been a bellwether for the convergence of the Innovation Economy. Dell moved operations from Limerick, Ireland to Lodz, Poland. Ireland itself is a hot spot of economic convergence. The competition for talent is fierce with more places competing for a piece of the innovation pie. The salary ask for employees in alpha global cities is too damn high.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Creative Urban Spaces Don't Promote Innovation

Artists and techies duke it out for control of the city at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Density, migration, and innovation.

Subject Article: "San Francisco City-Makers Say the Tech Sector Is No Good at Urbanism."

Other Links: 1. "The Geography of Anti-Gentrification: Google Buses and the World Trade Center."
2. "What Tech Hasn’t Learned From Urban Planning."
3. "Expensive cities are killing creativity: New York City, a traditional incubator for artists, has now become a 'gated citadel' for creativity."
4. "Loudoun County population is the fastest-growing in fast-growing Northern Virginia."

Postscript: I published the blog post at Pacific Standard yesterday. I read the following this morning:

This group of people, the tech workers who came here strictly to follow money, is a serious point of tension among San Franciscans. Pat T describes, “Now that they’re here they have all these complaints about it…Twitter just happens to be here. That’s a point of contention for a lot of people in the city because a lot of people want SF to be their idea of SF. They have this idea of San Francisco, and these new transplants aren’t coming for that same city.”

The artists are indigenous, the real San Francisco. The techies are newcomers, who don't understand the city's soul. The gentrification battle is about control of urban space, not displacement.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Geography of Anti-Gentrification: Google Buses and the World Trade Center

Putting jobs in the middle of the gentrification debate at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Employment and gentrification: consumer city versus producer city.

Subject Article: "What Tech Hasn’t Learned From Urban Planning."

Other Links: 1. "French McDonald's Bombed; Breton Terrorists Suspected."
2. "Talent Geography 101."
3. "Thousands protest at former U.S. embassy in Iran."
4. "Do Jobs Follow People or Do People Follow Jobs?"
5. "No Rest for the Wealthy."
6. "In Search of the Next Hot Neighborhood: As gentrification heats up, here are the signs that an area is primed to take off."
7. "Google bus blocked in San Francisco gentrification protest."

Postscript: Anti-gentrification factions attacking commerce in Berlin:

Despite the increases, the cost per square meter for a Berlin apartment remains about a third of wealthier cities such as Hamburg and Munich.

But like music fans who rebel when their favorite indie bands makes it big, no one seems particularly happy about the city's new wealth or its hip international profile, which old-timers blame for driving up the rents and attracting legions of American poseurs.

The ban on vacation apartment rentals is part of a growing backlash that has seen protesters attack investors at a business convention and anti-gentrification activists vandalize a newly opened hotel.

Gentrification, it's producer city versus consumer city.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Ireland: Gentrification of a Nation

Time to dump the conversation about gentrification at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Economic dislocation and forced migration.

Subject Article: "Irish exodus casts shadow on recovery from financial crisis."

Other Links: 1. "Were Jews Political Refugees or Economic Migrants? Assessing the Persecution Theory of Jewish Emigration, 1881-1914."

Postscript: To extend the metaphor of Irish emigration as gentrification, global talent displacing native workers:

"If you look at why multinationals came to Ireland before the crisis, they came for a number of reasons," said Barry O'Leary, the Industrial Development Agency's (IDA) chief executive.

"The things that they came for were not affected when the international financial crisis hit," he told AFP.

For foreign-born software developers, there was no financial crisis in Ireland. They can pick the nicest flat in the city. Competition for local real estate is a mismatch between tradable skills and labor (usually construction) concentrated in non-tradable industries. If you want work and a place to live, then you must leave home.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Why Is Gentrification Such a Hot Topic?

The geographically mobile gentrify the neighborhoods of the stuck at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Geographic mobility, class, and gentrification.

Subject Article: "Why Are Americans Staying Put?"

Other Links: 1. "New York City's Perpetual Gentrification."
2. "A Pilgrimage to the Vanishing Streets of My Grandmother’s Lower East Side."
3. "The Freegan Establishment."
4. "What drives human migration?"

Postscript: Does not a post make, but good food for thought here:

1917—The Great Jazz Migration begins when noted musician Joe “King” Oliver leaves New Orleans, La., and settles in Chicago, Ill. He is soon joined by other early Jazz greats. Their presence in Chicago laid the foundation for the Southern Black music genre (with heavy sexual overtones) to become a national obsession. Actually, the “migration” may not have been quite so romantic. Instead of being forced by the closing of the New Orleans Storyville district, Jazz greats probably left New Orleans for Chicago for the same reason other Blacks left the South–failing crops forced the disappearance of jobs while Northern factories recruited Blacks for work to produce arms and other goods for World War I. Nevertheless, many historians view Oliver’s relocation to Chicago as the start of New Orleans Jazz migrating to the rest of the nation.

I've read many people framing the Great Migration as forces of politics and culture pushing African-Americans out of the South. First off, a large number of Blacks relocated within the South (rural-to-urban migration). Second, often glossed over is the importance of recruitment and publicity to paving the way for the move from rural South to urban North. A similar migration folklore is confusing the debate about gentrification.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

New York City's Perpetual Gentrification

Gentrification is forever at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Demographic churn and gentrification.

Subject Article: "A Pilgrimage to the Vanishing Streets of My Grandmother’s Lower East Side."

Other Links: 1. "About Arrival City."
2. "Bronx Gentrification."
3. "NY Times Explores The 'Gentefication' Of Boyle Heights By 'Chipsters.'"
4. "Halloween in Detroit: Theatre Bizarre."
5. "America’s rental crisis."

Postscript: Aspirational migration doesn't seem to be a problem until the aspirants pine for a neighborhood where most residents are stuck. Thinking of Pittsburgh, and other legacy cities, gentrification will pit return migrants against elderly, fixed-income residents. The abandoned city made dirt cheap living possible. But those out-sized pensions demand high property taxes. The influx of city-slickers will jack up real estate values, challenging renters and home owners alike. Then there are the non-profits (e.g. hospitals and universities) buying up huge tracts of land, making residential more dear and more important for municipal revenue. Furthermore, anchor eds and meds gentrify residential neighborhoods. Meanwhile academics and activists act like something insidious is going on. Everything is gentrification and it is all bad. Left unsaid is that only Marxist revolution will fix the "problem".

Monday, December 09, 2013

Identity: State of Mind or State of Place?

The long history of gentrification in New Orleans at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Migration and gentrification.

Subject Article: "What does it mean to be a New Orleanian?: Richard Campanella."

Other Links: 1. "New Orleans' history shows that culture can be invigorated by new influences: Richard Campanella."
2. "Forget Brain Drain. The Truth Is Israel Gains When Talent Goes Abroad."

Postscript: Not New Orleans, but on point:

"The old-timers see: We are losing" said Katia Kelly, a Gowanus blogger and longtime local. "Whole Foods is one more example of stores catering to the affluent newcomers."

If some of the old-timers were becoming affluent, then you would hear a different story about gentrification. The angst is more about citizenship than displacement.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Transit Oriented Boondoggle: The Problem With Detroit's Streetcar System

Investment in any kind of transportation should aid production, not consumption at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Producer city versus consumer city.

Subject Article: "Invest in mass transit to retain young people, Michigan Municipal League says."

Other Links: 1. "Do Jobs Follow People or Do People Follow Jobs?"
2. "Knight Creative Communities Initiative (KCCI) Evaluation: Final Report."

Postscript: Speaking of Michigan:

Making Woodward Avenue cool — presumably more than it is already to muscle car fans and pub-crawling millennials — could revitalize Pontiac, diversify the economy into the technology sector and even reverse brain drain, a committee of the Oakland County Business Roundtable has determined.

The "Coolest Corridor" initiative, proposed by the roundtable's Economic Development Committee at the annual roundtable meeting today at the Troy Marriott, calls for convening a task force to determine how to support business growth trends and attract and retain tech companies. ...

... "Woodward Avenue does not stop at the boundary of Oakland County, providing an opportunity to connect with edgy communities within Detroit," the report states. "The Coolest Corridor initiative would promote a vibrant mix of social gathering where commerce, culture, recreation, entertainment, education and inspiration meet."

Michigan already tried the consumer city approach to urban revitalization (“Cool Cities” Initiative) under former Governor Jennifer Granholm. It didn't work because people follow jobs, not the other way around.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

U.S. Geography of News Stories

Drawing outside the lines on the map in order to include Pittsburgh at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Geographic stereotypes and mesofacts.

Subject Article: "Michigan can't afford to lose its lead in engineering talent."

Other Links: 1. "Middle Ground: The first national public radio show to focus only on Middle America, the states in-between California and the eastern seaboard. Who says it's flyover country?"
2. "Map of Middle Ground."
3. "For Celeste Headlee, the Middle Ground is Not Flyover Country."
4. "Mitten State: Michigan Nickname Used In Wisconsin Tourism Campaign."

Postscript: This blog post is a shameless plug for the Middle Ground fundraiser:

WHAT WE NEED:
A basic studio setup with a mic, mixer, Telos unit for recording phone calls, acoustic foam for the walls and audio editing software. Those are all one-time investments. But we also need funds to pay local reporters for their stories, to pay commentators, and to pay local stations for studio time. 

At the time of this posting, there are only 33 hours left in the campaign to raise $20,000 with almost $6,000 to go.

Legacy Economy: Pittsburgh Steel Crazy After All These Years

Steel king in Pittsburgh at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Economic development.

Subject Article: "Pittsburgh's evolving steel legacy and the steel technology cluster."

Other Links: 1. "Life after steel: Hamilton grows up."
2. "Steeltown: A Century of Steel."
3. "Why Are Some Cities More Entrepreneurial Than Others?"
4. "The factory of the future."
5. "Michael Porter's cluster theory as a local and regional development tool: The rise and fall of cluster policy in the UK."
6. "Ann Arbor looks to stake its place at the intersection of IT and the automotive industry."

Postscript: I searched the term "legacy economy" recently. It's used in a pejorative sense, which suits me just fine. Like Pittsburgh's brain drain, the legacy economy is a good thing. The quality of regional talent production, as well as talent refinement, is a draw for business. I'm getting more confident that the Talent Economy is the heir apparent for the Innovation Economy, which is already converging.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Economic Geography of Eds and Meds

Eds and meds are dying at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Economic divergence of the Talent Economy.

Subject Article: "Where 'Eds and Meds' Industries Could Become a Liability."

Other Links: 1. "The End of the Road for Eds and Meds."
2. "Historic Jobs Factoid II."
3. "Key to job growth, equality is boosting tradable sector of economy."
4. "Colleges deploy marketing pizazz to woo students: New tactics to chase shrinking pool of high school grads."
5. "Pittsburgh campus freshman class bigger, better."

Postscript: I wrote about the economic geography of eds and meds last March. I danced around the heart of the issue: whether or not a sector of an economy is tradable. Only recently have I come to appreciate the importance of the tradable economy for the development of cities. Urban amenities are non-tradable. You have to move to a city in order to benefit. That's the thrust of Richard Florida's model of migration. Jobs follow people. However, the tradable economy drives urban growth and prosperity. People follow jobs. The cool cities game is zero-sum, with most places losing. I'm astonished how many cities and towns pursue this strategy. Pittsburgh is eating their lunch.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Immigration and Gentrification

The parochial and xenophobic Jane Jacobs at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Authenticity and romantic attachment to place.

Subject Article: "in defence of diversity."

Other Links: 1. "London Is Dying."
2. "Rural China Is Dying."
3. "Ask A Native New Yorker: How Guilty Should I Feel About Being A Horrible Gentrifier?"
4. "Hudson Street Ballet."
5. "The New York City Draft Riots of 1863."

Postscript: Both terms "brain drain" and "gentrification" misunderstand migration. I'm still looking for a good reason to distinguish gentrification from other forms of displacement and economic dislocation. In both cases of brain drain and gentrification, those who leave are 100% pushed out of the community. That is to say, the community could do something to make them stay. Migration isn't that clean cut. There is usually some push and some pull informing a relocation. Also in both cases, newcomers are dehumanized and ostracized. Most of the furor over gentrification seems like an excuse for xenophobia.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Australia’s Migration Hangover

Pop goes Australia's migration bubble at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Migration and economic growth.

Subject Article: "Our national journey to prosperity."

Other Links: 1. "Stranded Hotel in Australia Emblem of Mining Bust: Commodities."
2. "Lose it and move it: Displaced Americans move locally."
3. "Local Area Unemployment Statistics: Las Vegas-Paradise, NV Metropolitan Statistical Area."
4. "Real Estate Sizzles Again In Las Vegas."
5. "Net migration reaches 10-year high as exodus to Australia slows."

Postscript: Commodities boom. Commodities bust. Conventional wisdom has a boomtown playing the hand it is dealt wisely, investing the wealth into other parts of the economy. The same rationale applies to migration. How well is Portland managing its current largess of human capital? Not very well, as near as I can discern. I have similar concerns about Australia.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Rural China Is Dying

Chinese people will cease to be Chinese people at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Economic convergence and dying places.

Subject Article: "China's villages vanish amid rush for the cities."

Other Links: 1. "London: people moving out, people moving in."
2. "Creative Class Myths About Talent."
3. "Beijing to Make It Easier to Bet the Farm: Leaders Set Goal of Clarifying Land Rights With Eye to Speeding Urbanization, Improving Agriculture."
4. "Environmental Explanations for Urban Migration and Sprawl."
5. "China's Pittsburgh Moment."

Postscript: Economic cycles and migration aside, I'm mainly interested in the connection between rural communities and national identity. Reading about China, I kept thinking about Mexico:

In addition to the gender of farming, the gender of out-migration from feeder states like Michoacan, Jalisco, Guanajuato, Zacatecas, and more indigenous Chiapas and Oaxaca, has changed radically. Once upon a time only men headed for El Norte and the potentially mortal consequences of this dangerous migration but womens’ numbers in the flow north have tripled in the last decade as neo-liberal agrarian policies imposed from Mexico City have devastated the "campo" and the bottom has fallen out of Mexican agriculture.

Under presidents Carlos Salinas and Ernesto Zedillo (1988-2000), the Constitution was mutilated to allow the privatization of communally-held land, grain distribution was handed over to transnationals like the Cargill Corporation, guaranteed prices were scrapped, and credit for poor farmers dried up. Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderon (2000-2010), presidents chosen from the right-wing PAN party, have hastened the demise of the agricultural sector.

The coffin nail was the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. Every year since, millions of tons of cheap U.S. and Canadian corn swamp Mexico forcing small-hold campesinos and campesinas out of business. A Carnegie Endowment investigation into the impacts of NAFTA on poor Mexican farmers published on the tenth anniversary of the trade treaty calculated that 1.8 million farmers had abandoned their milpas in NAFTA’s first decade – since each farm family represents five Mexicans, the real number of expulsees comes in close to 10,000,000, at least half of them women.

Emphasis added. Growing corn is to Mexico, as rice cultivation is to Japan. NAFTA effectively destroyed the icon of the Mexican yeoman farmer. Migrants streamed from rural Mexico to urban America. Rural Mexico is dying. Which means, Mexican-ness is dying. The link between a rural landscape and the national soul appears to be a universal. Thus, urbanization is an existential threat to the state and not so surprising that many suppose the globalizing city is undermining sovereignty.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Creative Class Myths About Talent

Creative Class migration is intra-regional and talent migration is inter-regional at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Economic geography of cities and migration.

Subject Article: "Attracting immigrant talent essential to city economies, Coletta says."

Other Links: 1. "Do Jobs Follow People or Do People Follow Jobs?"
2. "THE SOURCES OF URBAN DEVELOPMENT: WAGES, HOUSING, AND AMENITY GAPS ACROSS AMERICAN CITIES."
3. "Ernest George Ravenstein: The Laws of Migration, 1885."
4. "The Rise of the Creative Class: Why cities without gays and rock bands are losing the economic development race."
5. "Big Fish Small Pond Talent Migration."

Postscript: This is my second post in response to Michael Storper's book, "Keys to the City: How Economics, Institutions, Social Interaction, and Politics Shape Development."

Canada Is Dying

Attracting talent isn't a workforce development strategy at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Migration and workforce development.

Subject Article: "Kenney tells employers to raise wages: Way to solve skills shortages."

Other Links: 1. "NEARLY EMPTY JAPANESE VILLAGE POPULATED BY LIFE-SIZED DOLLS."
2. "To ensure prosperity, immigration reform must not halt the flow of newcomers."
3. "Era of Dying Places."
4. "Upcoming Quebec election will be a referendum on tolerance."
5. "IT groups must learn to grow their own talent."

Postscript: Businesses pushing for more immigrants because of a "talent shortage" is a boondoggle. It's no different than pushing for more talent retention.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Long Island Is Dying

Real estate developers such at demography at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Ironic demography and brain drain.

Subject Article: "‘Brain drain’ should not dictate our land-use policy."

Other Links: 1. "Long Island Brain Drain Targeted by Planners, Developers."
2. "Dead Souls: Nikolai Gogol, translated from the Russian and with an introduction by Donald Rayfield."
3. "BEST OF ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS: A PUBLIC ART CONTEST IN EVANSVILLE, INDIANA, BECOMES A DEBATE OVER CLASS, RACE, AND GOOD TASTE."
4. "'The New York Times' Is Dying."
5. "Are smarter women less likely to want children?"
6. "Attracting immigrant talent essential to city economies, Coletta says."
7. "Revenge of the Rabenmutter: No Sex for You."

Postscript: While I intended to shift focus from brain drain to gentrification, a spate of smart articles about general demographic issues that impact both "problems" popped up over recent days. In terms of policy, I'm reading communities coming to grips with a more nuanced understanding of demographic decline. Economic development as practiced now is not long for this earth.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

'The New York Times' Is Dying

Celebrating brain drain from the New York Times at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Human capital controls and migration.

Subject Article: "Does anyone still work at the ‘New York Times’?"

Other Links: 1. "Fit to sprint: Top talent exits The New York Times."
2. "Editor exodus continues at NYT."
3. "New York as a Gigantic Refinery of the Nation’s Human Capital."
4. "Esquire: Where does the money go?"
5. "In Praise of Brain Drain: Want to help the developing world? Hire away its best minds."
6. "New Canadian teachers head abroad amid tight job market."

Postscript: Assertion:

Britain has a brain drain problem: it's one of the two countries whose inventors are keenest to leave home, according to a study for WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organisation.

The :"journalist" continues:

WIPO is interested because of the negative effect on emerging countries of seeing their cleverest people emigrate. Africa and the Caribbean suffer the worst, with skilled scientific and technical graduates seeking more lucrative work in more mature economies.

Emphasis added. From the actual WIPO report:

The international mobility of skilled workers and its economic implications have emerged as important development topics. The project on intellectual property (IP) and brain drain seeks to generate new insights into this topic by exploring the potential of patent data to cast light on a specific category of highly skilled migrants – namely inventors. In particular, by exploiting information on inventor nationality and residence in Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications, it maps the migration of scientists and engineers, thereby establishing a partial geography of high-skilled migration. The present document describes in detail the mobility patterns of inventors over the 1991-2010 period. The underlying analysis is entirely descriptive and, by itself, does not offer evidence on the causes and consequences of skilled migration.

Emphasis added. Upon clicking through to read the report, I expected to find brain drain hysteria. The clamor for a more effective intellectual property regime is the model for concern about brain drain. Talent is the intellectual property of businesses and places. If we do not protect this intellectual property for businesses and places, then they won't invest in talent. To WIPO's credit, it stays above the controversy. The journalist, on the other hand, is promoting a specific agenda.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Portland Is Dying, Revisited

It's the birth rate, stupid at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Economic convergence and migration economies.

Subject Article: "Steve Duin: The sustained mediocrity of Oregon's higher-ed system."

Other Links: 1. "London: people moving out, people moving in."
2. "London Brain Drain."
3. "Check of Portland’s vitals shows signs of life."
4. "'Fastest Dying Cities' Meet for a Lively Talk."
5. "Texas Is Dying."
6. "Chicago Is Dying."
7. "Germany's Ann Arbor Dilemma."
8. "Urban Innovators: University Park Alliance."
9. "Got kids?"
10. "Economist tells Akron group that attracting talent is key to thriving cities."
11. "Talent Attraction Expert Joe Cortright."
12. "Not Dante's Pittsburgh."
13. "Once nearly extinct, U.S. streetcar is back."
14. "Don’t count on future immigrants for economic growth."
15. "Rust Belt chic: Declining Midwest cities make a comeback."
16. "Millennials Flock to Washington After Abandoning City in Recession."
17. "Andrew Zimmern on AZ Canteen, Pharmashilling, and Why Pittsburgh Is Hot"

Postscript: Believe or not, I'm tired of writing about Portland. But then I stumbled into that Steve Duin opinion piece comparing higher education in Oregon with that of North Carolina. It was a good opportunity to clear the air about the Portland-Pittsburgh comparison. Enough of that. Andrew Zimmerman saying nice things about Pittsburgh:

Pittsburgh: You talk about an island in the Darwinian sense. Here's a major American city stuck at the end of a series of river valleys, cut off from the rest of country. It is a Eastern European immigrant city — working class, blue collar — that has reinvented itself over the last 10-20 years with this craftsman approach to life that reminds me of cities like Austin, Portland, OR and Portland, ME. I hate to be one of those people who's like 'Pittsburgh is the next big thing,' but I get around more than most people and I'm telling you, Pittsburgh is like the next big thing. The geography lends itself, it's incredibly lush farmland, and inexpensive city with incredible history. They're renovating 100 year old railroad terminals into city markets. They had chefs who left the city because there was no scene and went to LA, they have the talent to be anywhere in America, and they have come back and can afford to open their own places and do what they want. It's very, very exciting. As a student of these things, there's just enough Fortune 500, sports teams, to feed that group. The art community and food community are kind of leading but there's money following them.

I think people who are in eastern Pennsylvania and it's like: Who can afford a $5 million house on the beach? Why not get a beautiful house on the river? I saw places that are just breathtaking. It's also got the Appalachians running through, so it's got stunning geography. The food scene is cool. Lots of good stuff going on. There are these old bars in these old 'hoods ... It's like today's special is goulash, tomorrow's is stuffed cabbage, huge portions. There's like three grandmas and a grandpa making this from scratch, the best stuffed cabbage I've ever had and I grew up on that.

If you think Zimmerman is gushing about the Burgh here, give this a listen: "Go Fork Yourself: Pittsburgh with Rick Sebak."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Chicago Is Dying

Weighing the good and bad sides of Chicago at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Sabermetric demography.

Subject Article: "Now how do we keep them?"

Other Links: 1. "Will the foreclosure crisis kill Chicago?"
2. "Shrinking City Myths."
3. "Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: Curious City."
4. "'I Wanted to Be Successful, and I Could Do That in Houston.'"

Postscript: I keep coming down on the side of Chicago is dying. I remain unsure if this is the case. Among the most globalized US cities, Chicago is the most affordable. It's a redoubtable talent magnet that also refines human capital for bigger and better things elsewhere. The global city distinction will remain a huge legacy asset. It also boasts perhaps the greatest assortment of Rust Belt legacy assets (e.g. research universities) in the entire country. Yet no place better epitomizes "the gated city."

Thursday, November 07, 2013

When Jobs Follow People

How shitholes such as Seattle attracted talent and revitalized at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Legacy economies.

Subject Article: "Kickstarter co-founder returns to Chicago."

Other Links: 1. "Iconic "will the last person" Seattle billboard bubbles up again."
2. "City of despair."
3. "The New Geography of Jobs (Enrico Moretti)."
4. "Do Jobs Follow People or Do People Follow Jobs?"

Postscript: While I'm not fond of the Lincoln Institute report, the term "legacy city" resonates with me. I'm working with the idea of "legacy urban economy". Demographics at the center, what Akron was is what it will be.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Doubling Down on Start-Up Las Vegas

Las Vegas gambling on jobs following people at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Urban growth and talent migration.

Subject Article: "Las Vegas’ tech sector has come a long way over the past year but still has some maturing to do."

Other Links: 1. "Do Jobs Follow People or Do People Follow Jobs?"
2. "The city startup: Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project."
3. "'Young People in Omaha Are Able to Take Bigger Risks.'"

Postscript: The subject article makes a strong case for people-follow-jobs, demonstrating a disconnect with Tony Hsieh's downtown revitalization efforts. Fair critique or not, I'm still not sure what the people-follow-jobs approach would look like. After reading this recent post from Aaron Renn, I get the same sense of helplessness that Enrico Moretti expresses in his book, "The New Geography of Jobs." What can Las Vegas do in the face of economic divergence? A new post coming soon attempting to answer that question.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Italy Is Dying

Fictions about Italian brain drain at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Demographic decline and brain drain hysteria.

Subject Article: "Italy: The Nation That Crushes Its Young."

Other Links: 1. "What Workers Lose By Staying Put."

Postscript: Italy suffers from too much social capital. Mr. Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam, would say that it is a good thing. It isn't. Most Italian communities lack the capacity to embrace newcomers and thus engage in knowledge transfer. Italy lacks churn, domestic and international. An allegory:

Peter’s café sits on a hillside in Horta, a port city on one of the Azores islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. By the time you reach the docks in the harbour, you can tell that this place is special. Bright, colorful paintings of sailboats and flags line the piers—hundreds and hundreds of them, drawn by visiting captains and crew members from every corner of the globe. Horta is the one place between the Americas and Europe where world-traveling sailors stop to take a break. Some are heading toward Fiji, others to Spain. Some are on their second tour around the world; others are simply resting before the last leg to Brazil. They come from different backgrounds and cultures. And all of them converge upon the rustic-looking Peter’s Café. Here they can pick up year-old letters from other world travelers or just sit and talk over a beer or a glass of Madeira.

When I saw this place for the first time, I realized that the serene environment of the café actually concealed a chaotic universe. The café was filled with ideas and viewpoints from all corners of the world, and these ideas were intermingling and colliding with each other.

“Get this, they don’t use hooks when fishing for marlin in Cuba,” one visitor says.

“So what do they use?” another asks.

“Rags. The lure is covered in rags. When the fish strikes the rag, it wraps around the fish bill and won’t let go because of the friction. The fish don’t get hurt and can be released, no problem.”

“That’s pretty neat. Maybe we could use something like that. . . .”

The people here participate in what seems like an almost random combination of ideas. One conversation leads into another, and it is difficult to guess what idea will come up next. Peter’s Café is a nexus point in the world, one of the most extreme I have ever seen.

Brain drain is good for innovation. Not enough young talent is leaving Italy.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Allentown Is Undead

A growing population isn't what you think it is at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Mesofacts and demography.

Subject Article: "Weak Tax Base Hurts Renewal: After Steep Decline, Allentown Places Hope in Development to Boost Property Values."

Other Links: 1. "Billy Joel never put down Allentown, anyway."
2. "Sun Belt Counties Dying."
3. "If I Ruled The Metro -- Suburban Mergers."

Postscript: My theme of "X" place is dying satirizes the metric folklore we use to make that determination. The population numbers, up or down, are much ado about nothing.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Great Gentrification

Switching gears from brain drain to gentrification at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Migration and xenophobia.

Subject Article: "Rockaway worries some outside relief workers are carpetbaggers."

Other Links: 1. "The Word Hoosier."
2. "Chicago’s Hillbilly Problem During the Great Migration."
3. "OKIE MIGRATIONS."
4. "Liz Cheney’s biggest challenge: The carpetbagger label."
5. "CARPETBAGGERS."

Postscript: In terms of talent migration, the primary concern for dying/failing cities is transitioning from brain to gentrification. Hypothetically, let's concede civic efforts to stop brain drain have worked. The flow reversal should boost demand for real estate, amenities, and infrastructure. But instead of staying in the suburbs where they grew up, your college graduates settle in urban neighborhoods. Those neighborhoods, while struggling with decades of sprawl, still have residents who are accustomed to the cheap rents resulting from the city exodus. Suburban-produced affluence collides with the isolation of urban blight. How does a community reconcile this tension? Is gentrification all that it is purported to be? I intend to dig into these questions as I have with brain drain.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Next American Hotspot

Which dying city will be the next big thing at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Talent migration projections.

Subject Article: "Census: Americans are moving again."

Other Links: 1. "DURANGO, COLORADO: Next Big Thing."
2. "HARDWICK, VERMONT: Next Big Thing."
3. "Jobless rate among the lowest."
4. "Demographic Deception."
5. "Go Back To Ohio."
6. "San Antonio Talent Economy: Bubbles and Barriers."
7. "[GENTRIFICATION DIARIES] A Tale of Two Austins."
8. "Are Artists to Blame for Gentrification?"

Postscript: I'm in the process of shifting blog focus from brain drain to gentrification. The two issues occupy the same space in a community's psyche. Locals good. Outsiders bad. However, brain drain is descriptive. Gentrification is predictive. I want to try my hand at being more predictive given my understanding of brain drain.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Celebrating Dying Places

Cheering on brain drain from Israel at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Talent churn and innovation.

Subject Article: "In Boston, Israel’s brain drain becomes a meeting of the minds."

Other Links: 1. "Noncompete Agreements Are The DRM Of Human Capital."
2. "Revenge of the Rabenmutter: No Sex for You."
3. "Israel Is Dying."
4. "Israel's Brain Drain: Why are so many Israelis teaching at American universities?"
5. "Knowledge Creation, Diffusion, and Use in Innovation Networks and Knowledge Clusters."
6. "NerdWallet Book Club: Orly Lobel, ‘Talent Wants to Be Free: Why We Should Learn to Love Leaks, Raids and Free Riding.’"
7. "REGIONAL DISADVANTAGE? NON-COMPETE AGREEMENTS AND BRAIN DRAIN."

Postscript: Okay, I started this blog thinking brain drain was a bad thing. Turns out, it is a good thing. Next up, the pejorative "Rust Belt" becomes a point of pride. "Hell with the lid taken off" doesn't mean what most people think it means. Sprawl and shrinking cities are more a function of upward mobility than White Flight. Technological advances that flooded the world with cheap food emptied out rural communities. The success of the Manufacturing Economy led to its own demise. "Bad" metrics stem from positive outcomes.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

United States of Failed Cities

Carl Schramm fails urban economic geography at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Policy narratives and social science.

Subject Article: "Why Does The World's Richest Country Have So Many Failed Cities?"

Other Links: 1. "Ambush In Mogadishu."
2. "New Tom Hanks movie features Minn. Somali actors."
3. "Urban Myths of Innovation: Density and Serendipity."
4. "Introduction to HNR360 – Failed Cities, Fast Cities."
5. "Post-Soylent Pittsburgh."

Postscript: For my own archival purposes, the year of urban peak for some well-known Rust Belt cities:


They decided that Buffalo’s civic apogee was 1901.  Its industry was diverse.  It received much of the Midwest’s grain in its port, milled it, and transshipped it by rail for export.    Pittsburgh’s best year was 1910; Rochester’s, 1928; Philadelphia’s, 1929; Detroit’s, 1950; and Gary’s, 1953.

Mind you, that's not a population peak. The tell-tale demographic decline comes after the economic decline. For example, Pittsburgh's epic exodus during the 1980s is roughly 75 years after its civic apogee. That's a long time to go without demanding labor from outside the region.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Urban Myths of Innovation: Density and Serendipity

Greater urban diversity and density aren't all that at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Urbanization and innovation.

Subject Article: "I Love You, David Byrne, But You're Wrong."

Other Links: 1. "Jeff Speck: America Has So Many Problems. Walkability Solves Most of Them."
2. "Two Brains Running."
3. "A call for innovation."
4. "The Urban Tech Revolution."
5. "Can you build an intersection?"
6. "Your Knowledge Is Nothing If No One Else Knows You Know It."
7. "The Paperman Official Trailer Disney Short 2013 HD."
8. "The Novel & Movie: The Bridges of Madison County."
9. "Urban Islands of Poverty and Bowling With Strangers."

Postscript: To make an analogous point about the link between erroneous geographic stereotypes and public policy:

People have been afraid of the dark since the dawn of time – and it’s a good instinct to have when you’re part of the food chain. For millions of years, light = safer. So no one complains about light that exposes potential predators.

While the film suggested a connection, ”there is no real, demonstrable correlation between lighting and crime,” Wren said. “(Rather) people feel less afraid of crime in well-lit areas.”

People feel that greater density and diversity fuel innovation. Bring on the innovation district boondoggles.

Friday, October 18, 2013

China's Pittsburgh Moment

Demographic decline informs better policy at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Ironic economic development.

Subject Article: "Where Have All the Workers Gone? China's Labor Shortage and the End of the Panda Boom."

Other Links: 1. "The Brain Gain: The Rise of San Antonio’s Talent Economy."
2. "Chris Briem, Regional Economist, Urban and Regional Analysis."
3. "Post-Soylent Pittsburgh."
4. "A very brief history of Pittsburgh: The rise, fall and rebirth of the city that built America."
5. "The single biggest change in Pittsburgh since the 1980s......"
6. "Demographic Trends and the City of Pittsburgh."
7. "Maybe I need to issue a press release: City of Pittsburgh now 'younger' than the United States....."
8. "I don't even know how far back you have to go to find the last time that was true."

Postscript: A passage from the Foreign Affairs article about China's labor shortage that I wanted to write about but didn't fit the blog post:

The new generation of migrant workers, by contrast, hardly worked on the farm, if ever at all, and often never saw their parents doing field labor either. Recent studies from Chinese think tanks have shown that these new migrants are less motivated by simple financial opportunities than by their own career advancement and individual interests. Moreover, they tend to put a premium on social justice and fair treatment. These lifestyle considerations make living closer to home, family, friends, and a familiar dialect and culture (which range as much in China as do the modern-day variations of Latin spoken in different corners of Europe) as important as their salary, if not more so in some cases.

Every region in the United States is in the talent attraction and retention game. However, the strategies and tactics employed are divorced from actual studies of migration patterns. What do Millennials want? I sat across from a Columbus, Ohio real estate developer at the International Economic Development Council conference in Philadelphia. The roundtable discussion was titled, "They're Just Not That into You (But They Could Be): Attracting and Retaining Young Professionals." About half of the people there for the chat fit into that category and the real estate developer was keen to know what they wanted. What I heard is that cool amenities didn't matter. Big fish, small pond did. They wanted to make a difference. They would migrate in search of that opportunity. But that qualitative data doesn't fit into a real estate developer's model. Such is the current state of regional talent management in the United States.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Israel Is Dying

Brain drain turning Israel into Somalia at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Networks of global innovation.

Subject Article: "Israeli ex-pats' Nobel win highlights brain drain."

Other Links: 1. "Ireland Is Dying."
2. "Two Israeli scientists who emigrated to U.S. win Nobel Prize in Chemistry."
3. "The World’s Leading Nations for Innovation and Technology."
4. "CBS '60 Minutes' Bob Simon: Detroit reminds me of Mogadishu, Somalia."

Postscript: Occasionally, I come across a legitimate brain drain problem. This story about two expatriate Nobel Prize winners isn't one of them. The Associated Press doesn't bother trying to balance its reporting, buying the hysteria without so much a second thought. Such junk journalism keeps the brain drain myth going.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Fortresses of Globalization and Wilmington, Delaware

Looking at the relationship between economic globalization and urban reinvestment at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Urban planning and globalization.

Subject Article: "City job policies are helping create two different and unequal Chicagos."

Other Links: 1. "Fortress Europe: How the EU Turns Its Back on Refugees."
2. "Migrant boat capsize leaves 27 dead in Mediterranean."
3. "France's troubled suburbs: Rebranding la banlieue."
4. "Mapping America's War on Terrorism: An Aggressive New Strategy."
5. "Rust Belt Allure of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania."
6. "creative change: loma design district gives wilmington identity, redevelopment it longed for."
7. "About the Riverfront Development Corporation."
8. "Recovery Grant Funds Amtrak Renovations."
9. "Michael S. Purzycki, Executive Director."

Postscript: Saskia Sassen's divergent global cities are converging down the urban hierarchy:

The hegemony of Tokyo, London and New York—and advanced economies as a whole—will wane. The MGI expects an additional 7,000 large companies by 2025—and most of the newcomers will be based in developing countries.

The number of headquarters in São Paulo is expected to triple by 2025. Beijing and Istanbul will have twice as many large companies. In 12 years’ time 46% of large companies will be headquartered in emerging markets. About 300 cities could host large companies for the first time by 2025—and more than 150 of these cities will be in the China region. In Western Europe, there will be just three newcomers.

Globalization is on the march, in developing countries and to the forgotten parts of the United States.