Thursday, April 14, 2011

Talent Retention Incubator

The Portland Predicament is a good problem for a region to have. Doing whatever it takes to move to the city of your dreams is, at the core, an entrepreneurial act. The same goes for sticking around a college town (or your dream city). You must be innovative to make it work. InnovationTrail follows up on its Ithaca story:

That type of resource is available to some extent in the Ithaca area, says Greg Galvin of Kionix, through the Cayuga Venture Firm. But overall, he says the slowness of the area’s growth has been “depressing.”

“The whole thing is a kind of [a] chicken and egg problem ... the investment capital doesn’t come,” says Galvin.

Why doesn’t enough capital come? Because there aren’t enough startups to attract investors. There aren’t enough startups, because there isn’t enough capital.

Solving that dilemma requires a certain degree of critical mass in the region. In the final part of our series we’ll look at strategies the university and the community can employ to ramp up the pace of growth in Ithaca.

I've read and heard the same lament in Pittsburgh and other Rust Belt cities. I think the issue is simply encouraging people to take risks. More capital is one way to accomplish this. Another way is to engineer or manage the right kind of migration. Attract more immigrants and you'll see more startups.

Regions overlook this opportunity because the community is focused on the wrong metric, population. If someone isn't willing to create a job in order to stay, then the region would be better off letting him or her go. Those who could leave but choose to stick around are entrepreneurial. Invest in these people, nurture them. Think of the initiative as a talent retention incubator.

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