Monday, August 13, 2007

Location-Neutral Migrants

The geography of knowledge economy nomads is emerging. Small towns in the Interior West are booming with "new urban refugees." People with companies or occupations that cultivate primarily virtual business relationships are fleeing the big city and remaking the rural West. Among the attractions are great weather, beautiful views, ample recreation, no commuting, and knowing your neighbors.

Location-neutral migrants do not require a lot of face-to-face interaction to do their work and they don't relocate in order to create a job opportunity. They are pioneers of a dispersed business model that could increase the geographic mobility of American labor. Pittsburgh isn't going to become the next Steamboat Springs, but the second generation of labor nomads could take advantage of the region's relatively inexpensive real estate.


Burgher Jon said...

I think you hit on a good point, perhaps one that the city should be more aggressively marketing. I'm in the category of "location-neutral" and, in addition to a long felt love for Pittsburgh, one of the primary reasons I'm here is for the real estate. Is there anywhere else in the country (certainly not Steamboat Springs) where a penniless fresh college graduate can buy a house in the middle of the social center (Southside) of a major city?

Jim Russell said...

Many of the cities noted as demographic losers have similar gentrification opportunities, but I suspect that Pittsburgh is further along the development curve than most of those other places. Regardless, I see Pittsburgh as a frontier landscape for 20-somethings. The city has too many assets not to cycle back as a destination for the young adult population.