Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Upstate New York Diaspora

Despite evidence from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to the contrary, the State pressed ahead with its Brain Drain Summit. The typical political red herrings were invoked, but a few interesting solution concepts did emerge:

If upstate New York applies its strengths, the region can retain its work force and attract new talent from other states, said [Martin] Babinec, the chairman, president and CEO of TriNet Group, which outsources human relations services. Babinec can live in upstate New York and run his San Leandro, Calif.-based company with some travel and the use of new technologies like video teleconferencing. Upstate companies should adapt to the changing technology environment to give workers the same opportunities he has, he said.

Mr. Babinec is a boomerang migrant who is sharing his successful Silicon Valley experiences with the struggling region where he grew up. Many of the assets he sees in Upstate New York would be familiar to Pittsburgh boosters. However, the concern about the lack of talent to make the economy go is one aspect that is different.

The aging workforce is expected to retire soon, which should result in a sharp rise in employment opportunities. New York is forging ahead with the pork regardless of the looming demographic brain drain, thereby casting a shadow over the intent of this summit. Tapping into the brain drain anxiety stinks of political pandering. Less cynically, Mr. Babinec is someone I intend to follow to see what comes of his initiative.

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