Thursday, May 7, 2009

Steel Valley Diaspora

Back in February of 2009, I wrote a blog post about a National Public Radio story that elicited a huge nationwide response. Jim Cossler, CEO of the Youngstown Business Incubator (YBI), characterized the overwhelming reaction:

So...I heard yesterday from some childhood friends I had lost touch with who are now living in Chicago, Houston and Phoenix.

And we probably heard, based on an eyeball estimate of my email in-box, from another 500 people from places like New York City, Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, San Jose and Denver. All thanks to National Public Radio nationally broadcasting a story yesterday morning to its 13 million listeners on the amazing software technology cluster being built by our organization in Youngstown, Ohio.

But, here's what we're most excited about.

We received countless numbers of emails from people who grew up in Western Pennsylvania or Northeastern Ohio, but who are now living in places across the country. They told us how thrilled they were to hear the story. They told us they wanted to learn more about what was going on. They told us that they wanted to visit with us the next time they came "home".

That's great, but we're going to go one step further.

We're going to be working very hard to get them all to move "home".

When I read Cossler's account, I immediately envisioned the perfect diaspora networking project. You want to get them to move home? I can do that for you.

Literally two and one half months later, here I am crafting the inaugural post for Greater Youngstown 2.0. The centerpiece of this initiative is a LinkedIn group with the express purpose of networking the Steel Valley Diaspora. At this virtual community, those desiring to boomerang back home can seek the help of fellow expatriates and key stakeholders who are already writing their own success stories in Greater Youngstown.

Need a job for a trailing spouse? We'll track one down for you. Not sure how to best relocate? We'll share best practices. Worried about schools for your children? We'll find the right fit for your needs.

If you haven't figured it out yet, there is something special brewing in Youngstown. Anyone who wants to the join the cause can do so through our network. I've studied how a diaspora can dramatically transform its homeland and sow the seeds of prosperity. The future of Greater Youngstown depends upon its talented expatriates.

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