Friday, September 28, 2007

ROI Pittsburgh

Bill Toland's latest Diaspora Report is up in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. I hope the newspaper will offer a fixed url for Mr. Toland's column. The interviewee is Matthew Kleinrock, a boomerang migrant who attended Pitt before transferring to the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA. After graduating, Mr. Kleinrock stayed in the DC area given the ample job opportunities in that region. He would later return to Pittsburgh searching for something he found lacking in Washington, DC:

If you've never been here, and you hear "Pittsburgh," you might think that it's not the best place. It was a challenge to get me to come visit Pitt when I was looking at colleges. But once I came here, I found the city to be full of good, accessible people.

Here, you can be part of a community and make a difference. In D.C., there really wasn't a sense of community because everyone is so transient. Here, you have the power to make things happen. People actually live here -- they don't just reside here -- and overwhelmingly, Pittsburghers are the best people I've met.

I want to emphasize that the Pittsburgh-DC connection is a two-way street and that Mr. Kleinrock's migration back to the Burgh is not uncommon. However, is his reason for returning representative of the talent flow? He suggests that the quality of life is the main attraction, but that this asset is relatively unknown.

Pittsburgh does a great job of attracting student who graduated from a high school outside of Pennsylvania. Attending university in the city is likely the out-of-state student's first significant exposure to Pittsburgh. We should surrender to their inevitable out-migration, but then help them get the word out about the advantages of Burgh living. Mr. Kleinrock is a good example of chain migration working for Pittsburgh.

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