Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Entrepreneurial Migration To Pittsburgh

Are you an entrepreneurial dreamer? Pittsburgh wants you:

The Experienced Dreamers™ contest is all about getting you to think about your dream – whatever it is you believe you were born to do – and asking if you have the courage to pick up your life, move to Pittsburgh and make it real. If you've got a dream and the passion to follow it, we want to hear about it. And – for one dreamer – we're going to give you the resources to help you do it.

From October 19 until December 16, 2011, we will be accepting applications for the contest. There's no fee to enter, but you must be 45 or older and you must not have lived within 100 miles of Pittsburgh in the last 10 years.

I emphasized the catch. John Cook at GeekWire had similar reaction to my own, where's the anxiety about the young adult demographic? Cook followed up with Shawn Bannon, who appears to be handling the PR for the initiative. Part of his reply to Cook shows up in the press release:

The contest, which is being managed by Leadership Pittsburgh, Inc., was created to raise awareness of Pittsburgh's virtues among Americans 45 and older after a study commissioned by the Jewish Healthcare Foundation found that the region could realize an economic impact of more than $2.5 billion by attracting 1,250 new 45-and-older residents over the next 20 years.

That would be an interesting study to read. Regardless, go check out the extended quote at GeekWire. (Cook's analysis is also worth your time.) Bannon puts to bed the concern about brain drain and the spotlight on attracting an older, more experienced demographic.

I've seen some research (here and here) that support this kind of targeting. The key demographic cohort for retention is 35-44. Attracting 45+ is really hard. The next stop is the snowbird migration.

My guess is that the talent dividend (i.e. $2.5 billion) is all about experienced entrepreneurs who could shepherd start ups coming out of CMU and Pitt. The ideas, energy, and even venture capital aren't in short supply. The know how to bring a product to market is lacking.

How will the contest engineer this migration? It's a publicity stunt designed to get the word out. The approach isn't innovative. I'd like to know why anyone thinks it will work this time. I'm jazzed about the 45+ focus. I'm not impressed with the plan to achieve the goal.

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