Thursday, September 27, 2007

Boomerang Buffalo

What is Buffalo doing to entice expatriates to move back? Turns out, the city is doing quite a bit. But the successes are much more about the quality of boomerang migrants, than the quantity:

“It was my will that led me to bring the operation to Buffalo,” said Tim Godzich, a founder of Definity Health. The company was renamed United Healthcare after he and others sold it about three years ago for $305 million. “If I wasn’t from Buffalo . . . I probably would have brought the service center to North Dakota,” he said.

Together such former expatriates add up to a clutch of Western New Yorkers who overcame obstacles to return. They persuaded colleagues and bosses that Western New York is as smart a move as Boston. Though the corporate tax rate is a high 7.5 percent, office space averages $20 a square foot, which is a deal compared to respective rates of $26 and $63 for Philadelphia and Boston.

Concerning Pittsburgh, job creation is a big problem. I'd like to dig a grave and bury all the brain drain drama. Once I do that, the clamor to bring back the people who left the region should make less din. The same goes for the constant shrill about the people who leave. If they weren't going to increase employment opportunities, buy them a plane ticket to wherever they can find the best job.

I'll use Iowa as an example in order to clarify my point. Iowa Governor Chet Culver has convened the Generation Iowa Commission and they determined that student loan debt was pushing recent graduates out of the region. Once again, the looming shortage of skilled workers is cited as the main reason for action. Once again, I wonder why local businesses won't offer more money to fill open positions. When these jobs start opening up, more graduates will start staying in Iowa. Student loans aren't forcing graduates to leave.

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