Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Network North Dakota Redux

Domestic offshoring is alive and well in the Great Plains. Seeking lower labor costs, Microsoft is expanding in Fargo, North Dakota. This Red River Valley success story reminded me of Network North Dakota and the organized hunt for talent among the state's diaspora:

One reason for the growth, the company says, is the Fargo branch's ability to find talented employees who work for less money than those in Seattle and other cities - despite some reservations about moving to North Dakota. They come mostly from the Midwest.

I don't want to overstate one lonely example, but Fargo is certainly bucking the trend of rich cities getting richer thanks to talent pooling in select locations that facilitate career advancement. And not to solicit hate e-mail, but living in North Dakota is not easy. The well-educated who are familiar with the region's downside and upside, are the ones most likely to respond to Microsoft's offer of employment.

Cheaper living can attract talent as long as that demographic already appreciates the sunny side of the landscape. These externalities of labor mobility can provide economically struggling areas with a competitive advantage.

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