Monday, September 07, 2009

Youngstown Brain Network

Since the beginning of last May, I've been working on a diaspora networking project for Youngstown. We're currently preparing to launch the second stage of the effort. I've been thinking about what kind of approaches are most effective and reviewed the number of initiatives I've blogged about here. I've learned that China used its diaspora better than India did. The GlobalScot model is still the best practice. One emerging effort I've been tracking is East Coast Connected:

About 70 per cent of the organization’s members live in Toronto, while 30 per cent live in the Atlantic region. A recent survey showed that membership in East Coast Connected is split evenly between men and women. The majority of its members are between 20 and 45 and are university or college educated.

East Coast Connected keeps its members engaged with Atlantic Canadian news, politics and culture, and provides networking opportunities for Atlantic Canadians living in Toronto. Atlantic businesses can promote their companies in Toronto and highlight job opportunities for people who want to move back home.

Since East Coast Connected burst onto the scene, I've noticed a growth in boomerang migration programs in the United States. However, there is little to no discussion about what works and what doesn't. Regions appear to be flying blind concerning this talent flow. Part of the problem is the obsession with brain drain and outdated approaches to workforce development.

After some discussion with the Youngstown Business Incubator and the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, I think we are on the cusp of addressing this policy shortcoming. Youngstown's willingness to embrace new ideas provides a fertile environment for the rapid development of civic innovation. At this juncture, I would characterize the networking plans as building on East Coast Connected's success and leveraging the unique opportunities found in the Mahoning Valley.

Hopefully, more to come soon.

No comments: