Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Domestic Sister Cities

Spiky versus flat, or Richard Florida versus Thomas Friedman. Two sides of the same coin. Cosmopolites living in spiky alpha global cities experience a flat world. This picture of urban globalization isn't controversial. More cutting edge (and debatable) is geographic arbitrage. Move to Portland, Oregon and get San Francisco at a fraction of the cost. In the same vein, expats are returning to Scranton from New York City and enjoying a megapolitan spillover. Rust Belt cities are the next "neighborhoods" to be gentrified. The latest Flat World trend:

Bradenton, the spring training home of the Pittsburgh Pirates since 1969, will enter a “Two Cities” alliance with the Steel City tonight as the two communities cement their tourism and economic development relationship.

An official presentation, featuring proclamations from Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston, will take place before tonight’s game between the Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park.

Spectators at the game will watch a travel video showcasing the beaches and many activities in Manatee County, including Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key.

A press release from the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau said the two cities are “putting a domestic spin on the international ‘sister city’ concept.”

“It only makes sense that we take that relationship to the next level,” Poston said, “strengthening the ties the two cities have and adding new ways of thinking about how we can help each other strengthen our economies, our tourism opportunities and our Major League Baseball presence.”

There is more than a professional baseball connection between the two cities. As some of you surely know, Florida communities are full of Pittsburgh expatriates. Diaspora populations represent co-location economic development. The flow of brains from China to the United States deepens the relationship between the two superpowers. Likewise, brain drain to Dallas represents a business opportunity, the reciprocity of talent trade.

Smart people will always leave your town. They are the most likely to leave and tend to be the least risk averse. The goal of my blog is to figure out how to generate a return on the investment in wayward human capital. A domestic sister cities program is one way, like having a branch campus in another country. The destination community is already benefiting from your graduates. Why turn your back on them?

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