Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Young And The Restless

I'm glad I'm not the only one fed up with the caterwauling about brain drain. Policies designed to keep graduates from leaving town or the state are useless. A voice from the Toledo Blade offers a more constructive critique:

Recently we published a report about a survey from a Washington-based research group, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, that found that young people are sprinting for the state’s borders. The report said 88 percent of native Ohioans at seven of the state’s top colleges are proud of their home state. But as soon as half of them get that sheepskin validating their status as college grads, they book. They are outta here. Toodles. See ya!

Well, duh!

For young people, leaving home is what they do. True, there are exceptions. But the fact is that the young, adventurous, and brave ones empowered by their parents — who help support them until they can stand on their own — take flight.

Sometimes they return after college. Sometimes they don’t. That’s life.

And though I wasn’t too surprised that 79 percent of the undergraduates from other states say they want to leave, too, shouldn’t they be the people that city officials put their attention on?

If Buckeye State natives find other cities attractive and interesting, shouldn’t Toledo authorities market T-town to woo restless college grads from other places?

College graduates are "restless" in every state, not just Ohio. But the urban leadership is ignorant of this dynamic and continues to recycle one impotent initiative after another. Brain dead boondoggles.

What will make you stay? I appreciate the effort, but the Rust Belt needs an attraction campaign. The region must lure more foreign-born talent and spur job creation, innovation. Restless college graduates from outside the Rust Belt must be enticed to seek opportunity in America's Urban Frontier.

Every future Rust Belt conference should be held in cities with large populations of Rust Belt refugees. The time has come to start pitching the attributes of the mega-region in the places where it would do the most good.

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