Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Homing Instinct

Bill Toland's "Diaspora Report" might be taking off. I still wish the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette would give his community beat a dedicated url a la "My Homewood". Toland's latest column publishes a number of letters he received and one in particular stood out to me:

"I am a member of the Pittsburgh Diaspora, currently residing in the Washington, D.C., area … During my five and a half years here, I have fallen more and more in love with my hometown, [and] after flirting with returning several times in the past few years, I resolved to finally make the move back in September. … Other than myself, I have come across scores of 25- to 34-year-old former Pittsburghers who would love nothing more than to return home and help shape our city as it continues its transformation. Just give us the opportunity and we'll run with it.

-- RYAN MILLER, Washington, D.C., area

I've approached encouraging boomerang migration with a great deal of caution. Even a wildly successful initiative wouldn't solve Pittsburgh's demographic woes. Immigration to the region offers more salvation on that score. But a strategic campaign to attract the most motivated of the Burgh Diaspora could address the rumored talent shortages plaguing local enterprise.

The current rate of job creation will not support all the people who want to move back and the best opportunities to boomerang will likely require some labor mobility. In other words, your current occupation probably isn't in great demand in Pittsburgh. Here is an idea for the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance: Advertise to the Burgh Diaspora the talent needs that local education is failing to address and help the boomerang inclined fill those positions.

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