Monday, July 20, 2009

Relocation Entrepreneur

Of late, I'm seeing more initiatives designed to lure back expatriates. Is it an identifiable migratory trend? An article in the Wall Street Journal about Scranton suggests a pattern:

There's a distinctly white-collar movement behind Scranton's comeback. A return of college-educated natives from cities like New York and Philadelphia is fueling a population rise and a civic makeover. Bringing them back are the very small-town qualities many once wanted to escape: the likelihood of meeting acquaintances and relatives on the streets. The embrace here of modest ambition. The deeply held belief -- only heightened by ridicule from the outside world -- that Scranton matters. ...

... Precisely how many natives have heeded the call isn't known. But many returnees seem to orbit in a large circle of other returnees, as the case of Ms. Dempsey illustrates. At her firm she employs an architect who moved back to Scranton from New York City, and a designer who moved here with his boyfriend -- a Scranton native who has started a wine bar in town. One of Ms. Dempsey's siblings, a fashion designer, quit a job at Burberry Group PLC in New York City to join a Scranton-area technology firm, while a brother-in-law left a Wall Street investment bank for a Scranton software startup.

The narrative suggests to me a form of network migration, a boomerang community that helps other like-minded diasporans come home. These reverse pioneers think like immigrants, motivated by a sense of civic pride.

There's a similar story about the Montana Diaspora:

Great Falls native Mike Spinti moved to Seattle for a job with Boeing after graduating from Montana State University with a degree in mechanical engineering.

Mechanical engineering jobs are hard to find in Montana, he said.

"I like designing things and building things," he said. "That's what took me out of state."

Spinti worked in Seattle, England, Florida and Texas, but he and his wife, who is from Bozeman, always knew they wanted to come back to Montana at some point.

After they had children, they realized if they were going to make the move, it needed to be before their kids got too far along in school.

Spinti started looking into the possibility of telecommuting from Montana, but couldn't find a firm that was willing to allow him to do so.

"I had to go to plan B, and plan B was to do my own thing," Spinti said.

Spinti purchased Belton Hearing Center after discovering that the owners were looking to retire.

To successfully boomerang often takes determination, guts and guile. In short, you have to be a relocation entrepreneur.

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