Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Rust Belt Reset: Saratoga

I spent most of my childhood in a small town (Charlton) just north of Schenectady, NY. I didn't have a sense of this region's decline while living there. My only comparison was Erie, PA. Regardless, this is the part of the Rust Belt I know best. I feel a sense of pride when I read good (glowing) economic news:

Arguably, the area has returned to its roots. GE Global Research, founded 112 years ago, traces its origins to a carriage barn in nearby Schenectady. After shrinking its manufacturing arm in the 1990s, it is bringing it back to New York, making high-energy-density batteries and digital x-ray-detectors. Other companies are also arriving, such as Air Liquide, one of GlobalFoundries’ suppliers, and Panalpina, a specialised logistics company. Sematech, a chip consortium, has moved to Albany from the high-tech magnet of Austin, Texas. Sinclair Schuller established Apprenda, his cloud-computing start-up, in Saratoga because it is in a “sweet spot”: boasting an educated workforce, and just a few hours’ drive from Montreal, New York City and Boston. And, just to ice the cake, the area has the lowest per-capita county taxes in New York state.

A company is moving from Austin to Albany to take advantage of the innovation legacy. The Rust Belt is full of such sweet spots, the US geography of the Talent Economy. The hearths of manufacturing spewed forth the skilled workforce that retooled America. Many of them are now returning home.

Brain circulation is the centerpiece of the emerging Talent Economy. Where you see this pattern is where the growth will be. It's where the jobs are. People are linking places. Capital is following.

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