Saturday, December 10, 2011

Moneyball And Community Redevelopment

David versus Goliath. Backwater versus global city. Small market versus big market. Moneyball speaks to it all:

The Moneyball thesis is simple: Using statistical analysis, small-market teams can compete by buying assets that are undervalued by other teams and selling ones that are overvalued by other teams.

Like many Rust Belt cities, Pittsburgh has a treasure trove of urban assets that have been long undervalued. That's because statistical analysis didn't go much further than an account of population. All you need to know is that people vote with their feet.

Fair enough, but how do those migrants make their decisions? Just how rational is that choice? Moneyball exploits conventional wisdom, looking at the "places" off of the common mental map. While you are trying to cram onto the crowded bus to Portland, Oregon, good jobs go unfilled in Fargo, North Dakota.

We move to New York City because it is the Yankees of the urban hierarchy. But that doesn't mean small markets can't compete with the alpha global cities. New York will throw gobs of money at trying to out-Silicon-Valley, Silicon Valley. Heading Upstate, Albany is carving out a world renown cluster in nanotech. There is plenty of undervalued talent available not living in NYC.

An example of overvalued talent might be in the financial sector. Right now, Portland is the best example I can think of as an overvalued destination. More sophisticated migrants can crunch the numbers and find a diamond in the rough. Welcome to Pittsburgh.

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