Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Iowa Diaspora

Pittsburgh's demographic problems pale in comparison to that of the Great Plains. Out-migration in that region is so bad that professors Deborah and Frank Popper suggested that the people remaining there submit to the inevitable, surrendering a large swath of the United States to free range buffalo grazing.

Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, a Pittsburgh native, is fighting back. Vilsack toured the country trying to entice Iowa expatriates to return home:

Vilsack insists, "Everything you can do in a Chicago or New York, you can do in Iowa." Even in today's lean times, he's remained committed to his "Vision Iowa" program, a $2 billion effort to juice up the state's culture and recreation opportunities.

Last spring, Governor Vilsack was in Atlanta, continuing his extensive tour of the Iowa Diaspora. Like Pittsburgh and Buffalo, Iowa hopes its native sons and daughters will return. The Iowa Careers Consortium (ICC) is spearheading the effort:

The ICC incorporates several marketing strategies to help achieve our mission. Some of these include "the Cube" student connection, recruitment trips to areas with a high concentration of Iowa alumni or targeted skilled workers, national and in-state public relations, participation in special events and career fairs, and development of collateral materials. The cornerstone of the marketing program is

Not that I advocate such a strategy, but I am impressed with the vigor Iowa is reaching out to its diaspora in order to foster greater boomerang migration. Regions seem loathe to embrace the fresh perspectives that novel immigrants bring. This is the tolerance factor (or lack thereof) that forms the foundation of Richard Florida's evangelical movement to embrace the "Creative Class." A less cynical perspective on my part would be the notion that the Iowa Diaspora would be more likely to relocate and thus provide a better return on the ICC's marketing dollar.

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