Thursday, June 26, 2008

Activating Your Expatriates

Brain drain never felt so good. There are benefits to exporting human capital. The problem is figuring out how to keep in touch with the geographically mobile hometown economic superstars:

Chris Crowell is one of the many young people who has left Atlantic Canada for the appeal of the big city.

And although he didn't say he has any immediate plans to return home, Crowell still has strong ties to the region and works to dispel the various stereotypes that exist about Atlantic Canada.

"People sometimes leave the region for very valid reasons and they can come back with increased business networks, increased experience -- it can be very valuable," he said. "We're not trying to say what any individual should do, what we're trying to do is keep them engaged in what's going on here."

Crowell, president of the Toronto-based group East Coast Connected, spoke at a business breakfast in Fredericton yesterday morning.

The group consists of former Atlantic Canadians living in Toronto who work together to promote the region and foster ties between their home provinces and Ontario.

Building these networks on the back end of the migration is doing it the hard way. The proactive approach is to facilitate the relocation. Help place regional human capital where it can best thrive.

Does such an economic development plan sound crazy? China has employed this model successfully. The perceived brain drain has transformed into a significant migration pattern of brain circulation. India, a country that mostly ignored its emigrants, now struggles to call its expatriates home. The Indian government is left scrambling to enfranchise its Diaspora.

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