Thursday, November 06, 2008

Brain Drain Bloggers

One of the Global Erie bloggers, Rebecca Styn, has dedicated herself to addressing the issue of brain drain. Tracking the geographic mobility of talent is a subset of economic development and I'm glad to see more blogs filling this preoccupational niche. Richard Florida and Joel Kotkin are the heavyweights in this part of the blogosphere, but there is plenty of room for less academic voices. I'm not questioning Ms. Styn's credentials. On the contrary, the efforts of amatures make blogging such a rich learning environment. The likes of Florida and Kotkin publish their ideas. Their blogs allow them to reach a broader audience. For me and others like Ms. Styn, blogging provides us with a vital avenue to share ideas and best practices. I blog to learn, not to promote my brand.

That is a long-winded introduction to some web searching serendipity. There is another new brain drain blog on the scene and this blogger is backing up his quest for answers with three initiatives (Upstate Connect, Upstate Fellowships Program, and Shake Upstate) designed to solve the problem of out-migration in New York State. Kevin McAvey started The Upstate Foundation because he observed fellow Colgate graduates looking for work outside of the region:

The foundation will soon start working on raising money to fund its $1,000 fellowships and McAvey is talking to college career services staff so that he can start what he calls the Upstate Connect initiative.

He wants employers to list job openings on the Upstate Foundation's Web site and have a weekly list of openings sent to career offices and then forwarded to students.

At Syracuse University's Center for Career Services, 16 percent of the current postings for full-time jobs are within 50 miles of Syracuse, said center Director Mike Cahill. His staff has been working to boost that percentage for the last five years, he said.

"It's a challenge," Cahill said. "Particularly for students who come to Syracuse or Cornell from somewhere else. They really aren't looking to stay."

On many occasions, I've blogged about what I perceive to be poor talent management policy. But I'm not interested in how Mr. McAvey supposes to solve the problem. I am more taken with his ability to get a foundation off the ground while entering graduate school at Cornell University. One thing to blog about brain drain, as I have done, but quite another to put the wheels into motion and do something about it.

I have the same feeling now I had when I discovered East Coast Connected, "Hey ... I could do that!"

Well, my location in Colorado might make my hill to climb a bit steeper, but some of my readers might be able to put me in touch with the right people to get nEXtPittsburghers off the ground. My mission is to network Pittsburgh expatriates, creating a valuable alumni network for the region of Greater Southwestern Pennsylvania and those people passionate about that part of the world. My goal is to make the inevitable out-migration of talent into the region's greatest economic asset.


UpstateNY said...

Your blog is great. Thank you for the shout out.

Best Always,
Kevin Casey McAvey

Jim Russell said...


Good luck with your endeavor. I will be following your blog to get updates on how your initiative is doing.