Thursday, October 8, 2009

Rising Star of Youngstown

The Economist is in the midst of a love affair with Pittsburgh. The reviews of the city's makeover are glowing. Now, some of that attention is spilling over into Youngstown:

One developer is hard at work converting old downtown high-rises into stylish new apartments. And Federal Plaza, the once abandoned main drag, is now speckled with a few clubs and restaurants. On Friday and Saturday nights, twenty-somethings spill out onto the pavements. Now all Youngstown has to do is keep them.

No. Youngstown must attract more of them. Let Detroit and Michigan waste time and resources worrying about retention. Ignore Ohio's silly scheme to help college graduates buy homes in the state. In general, first-time homebuyer credits make for lousy policy. The legislation is a handout to real estate interests.

Youngstown's challenge is to get the word out about the tremendous opportunities available in the city. The article in the Economist highlights the geographic arbitrage advantage:

Jim Cossler, head of the Incubator, expects more growth as more start-ups join Turning Technologies and the 13 others currently there. He says he has convinced a software company from San Francisco to send some employees to Youngstown, not least because—according to him—the rent is 4% of what it would be in San Francisco.

I would stress the embrace of entrepreneurship and the very accessible Mahoning Valley powerbrokers. Youngstown might be the nation's startup garage. Tinker on the cheap along with all the other young, ambitious talent scheming and dreaming downtown.

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