Sunday, February 22, 2009

Brain Drain Bailout

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is crying wolf. To the tune of $45 million, financial industry talent would be retrained so they won't leave the Big Apple. However, this grand brain drain boondoggle deserves consideration. Bloomberg is trying to take advantage of the economic meltdown and grab a greater share of innovative human capital from around the world:

The city is offering fledgling entrepreneurs cheap rent, and assistance in getting their businesses off the ground.

It is also targeting 25 companies, in places like China and Qatar, to get them to relocate here, using $30 million in federal aid for incentives.

The plan is to turn the recently unemployed into job creators, subsidizing their efforts to make entrepreneurship more attractive. In many regards, the Youngstown Business Incubator is already engaged in such a project. The Tech Belt is ideally suited for a large scale initiative akin to what Bloomberg is proposing:

The mayor was scheduled to announce the 11-part program at a building in SoHo that will house an incubator for start-up companies that might employ laid-off professionals. A second business incubator is scheduled to open in the spring in Lower Manhattan, according to Seth W. Pinsky, the president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation.

NYC is following YBI's lead. The Cleveburgh advantage is that a robust innovation economy is already in place and cheap rent is readily available without the need for gobs of federal dollars. Why invest in a dinosaur when you can piggyback on a gazelle?

The Tech Belt could take a page from Bloomberg's book and aggressively court talent from around the world. Imagine Cleveburgh as a Green Card haven for foreign-born entrepreneurs. The mix of creative legislation and better use of stimulus money could build an economic powerhouse like Bloomberg envisions for his city.

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