Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Domestic Diaspora Policy

Calming regional brain drain anxiety is difficult. The desire to keep young people from leaving is strong and the aim of just about any diaspora network project is to help expatriates return:

Jobs aren’t the answer for everyone.

They need other things, too, that appeal to their interests and offer them some form of meaning.

That said, I think it’s the only place to start a discussion about improving an economy and reversing the flow of people out of Erie. People go where the opportunities are. The other stuff follows...

...The only way Erie will change is if it can incubate and attract businesses that provide good jobs.

The other stuff will follow.

I’ve heard from many Erie expatriates who say they would gladly move home if they had the right opportunity.

That tells me that jobs just might be the answer here.

But you tell me. Maybe my thinking is flawed.

Increasing the number of jobs in a region is a good idea, but Mr. Panepento's (Outside Erie blog) thinking is still flawed. Helping someone who would like to move back do exactly that is a worthy cause. But attempts at "reversing the flow" are misguided and help feed the brain drain myths that inform ineffective policy.

If shrinking cities such as Erie and Pittsburgh continue to insist on keeping everything within the" family", the demographic problems will persist. Willing boomerang migrants will not do nearly enough to address the in-migration issue. In fact, not all brain circulation is good for a region. What struggling cities need are people who will help create jobs, not just fill open positions.

How can the Burgh Diaspora improve Pittsburgh's opportunity landscape?

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