Thursday, April 23, 2009

Michigration Nation

Where are Michigan graduates going? More at the end of the post on why that's the wrong question to ask. The mains for brain drain plumbing:

The top 10 places to which Michigan is losing young people are Illinois, California, New York, Ohio, Texas, Wisconsin, Washington, D.C., Washington state, Minnesota and Virginia, said David Waymire of Martin Waymire Advocacy Communications in Lansing. Waymire works closely with Michigan Future and the Presidents Council State Universities of Michigan in Lansing.

Looks like a typical out-migration profile for many states, save the Rust Belt destinations of Ohio, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Young professionals from around the country are concentrating in the DC region, NYC, LA, SF, Chicago, Seattle, Dallas, and Houston. Michigan isn't going to offer a viable alternative to those urban offerings.

The talent churn between brain drain states such as Michigan and Ohio is of particular interest. Yesterday, readers of the Detroit daily newspapers were introduced to the mayor of Braddock, John Fetterman. Is Braddock trying to poach Michigan energy companies? Fetterman claims otherwise:

"Just the opposite ... we're brothers and sisters in struggle," Fetterman said. Keith Gaby, spokesman for the EDAF, said he could see why Michiganders might view the ad with skepticism.

"We used him because he's just a very charismatic guy," Gaby said. "We don't expect it to help Pennsylvania any more than it will help Michigan or Utah. This is all about green jobs."

The idea that one shrinking city is pitted against another is absurd. If the green economy blossoms in the Rust Belt, both Flint and Braddock win. New pathways of in-migration will be built. The ad campaign is how we might re-imagine and rebuild our urban infrastructure.

Missing from the brain drain article (and the discourse about the concentration of talent) is where college graduates are moving from to end up in Michigan. What could be done to improve the in-migration from states outside of the Rust Belt? That young professionals move between neighboring states is to be expected. But engineering an increase of relocation from distant talent production centers such as Los Angeles would be a clear indicator of success. But Michigan cannot accomplish this on its own. Only a coordinated and coherent interstate mega-region could.

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