Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Perils Of Boomerang Migration

Place or career? A lucky few don't have to make such a choice. For the rest of us, we'll have to give up something in order to get something:

Twenty-six-year-old Collin Jacobs thought he'd taken all the right steps to get his dream job as an architect. Jacobs just completed his masters though an exclusive design-build program at the University of Kansas and thought it would give him the edge he needed. ...

... "We looked at Omaha. We looked at Des Moines and thought about the East Coast or the West Coast, but those job markets were getting hit a lot harder," Collin said.

And the exact things that Sioux Falls and the state are working so hard on to attract and keep younger people were what called the Jacobs back home.

"We could have gone anywhere. It's just good to come home. There are a lot of good communities in Eastern South Dakota. A lot of stuff going on downtown Sioux Falls, UpTown, all that stuff is very exciting," Collin said.

The Jacobs couldn't have imagined they'd be stuck where they are right now, but only 20 percent of new college graduates are finding jobs.

If you know where you want to live, then you will have to be creative. Your dream of being an architect might be possible in another city, but not in your town of choice. Collin Jacobs would have benefited from some labor mobility counseling with a strong geographic perspective.

I don't blame South Dakota for trying to lure natives back home. But there should be more strategy involved. Address talent shortages and inspire more entrepreneurship. Increasing population is a goal, not an economic development initiative.

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