Monday, January 4, 2010

Expatriate El Paso

Over at Burgh Diaspora, I look at the problem of the growing risk-averse population in the Rust Belt and consider two solutions. An emerging trend, shrinking city expatriates are returning home to rebuild. By way of adding another tale to the pattern, boomerang El Paso:

But a new trend is taking place at the start of the second decade of the 21st century. Many young professionals are deciding to make a difference in their community, and with it, enhancing the long-term growth and prosperity of El Paso.

"You see it in the young people moving back here for the kind of jobs El Paso has never had before or who come back to start businesses or families or projects," city Rep. Beto O'Rourke said. "You see it in someone like Jim Ward of Sleepercar, who because of his talent and standing in his industry, could live and work in any city in the world and yet chooses to make El Paso his home."

Mayor John Cook sometimes looks at the city representatives and thinks to himself, "I have a grandchild almost your age."

Cook, whose granddaughter is 27, realizes how important tomorrow's young leaders are to El Paso.

"New ideas are extremely important, especially those from young people who have gone off to college, lived in other communities, lived in other exciting cities and then come back wanting to make their city a better place, wanting to make a difference in their community," he said. "You will see more innovative young people coming back and saying, 'I didn't just get smart in college, I got ideas and I'm going to come back home and make my city a better place and make a difference."

Plugging the brain drain, keeping talent from leaving, is bad policy. Even if effective, the region will lack a fresh perspective needed to reinvent the economy. Deeply rooted natives aren't going to be agents of change.

Ohio workforce development initiatives make this mistake. Too much attention is given to local graduates moving out of state. Take the money that has been earmarked to slow the exodus of talent and apply it to luring the best and brightest back to Northeast Ohio. Why doesn't Joe Schiavoni fund what Tyler Clark is doing, instead of incentivizing graduates to stay? Why not facilitate another Eric Planey returning to the Mahoning Valley? I can tell you that all the brain drain initiatives being tried now have been tried before, and failed. Time to explore some different options.


  1. Mr. Russell:

    Senator Schiavoni's bill does incentivize young talent from out of state. The bill provides a state income tax credit for a college grad from ANY accredited University. So for example a graduate of Harvard will receive the same credit as a grad from YSU. Did you read the bill???

    Also, why bash the young talent of Northeast Ohio?? Just becauser they are born here they cannot help reinvent the economy. I totally disagree.

  2. Derek,

    I'm aware of the attraction provision. Too bad Senator Schiavoni chose to promote only the retention side of the bill. Regardless, I've seen initiatives such as this before. It doesn't work.

    I'm not bashing the young talent of Northeast Ohio. On the contrary, I'm celebrating it as the region's greatest asset. We could do a much better job of leveraging these brains.

  3. Jim:

    I guess whatever an elected promotes is what counts. The actual language doesn't matter.

    You first said "deeply rooted natives aren't going to be agents of change" Now you say "we can do a better job of leveraging these brains" Which is it?

    Of course YBI doesn't a wonderful job, that is a regional and local effort. And Mr Planey will be working for the Chamber, a privately funded group. Schiavoni's bill is dealing with state tax obligations.

    How can you be so sure that telling a 26 year old engineer with advanced degrees that he can work in another state and pay taxes, or in Ohio and pay next to no state taxes, will not be successful?

  4. How can you be so sure that telling a 26 year old engineer with advanced degrees that he can work in another state and pay taxes, or in Ohio and pay next to no state taxes, will not be successful?

    Because other states have tried and failed. A little research into various schemes designed to slow the brain drain would go a long way. It's a show piece of legislation that is popular with voters. I see the same pandering going on in Ohio and around the country every year.

  5. I would advise you to submit your ideas to the Governor and any electeds in the Vallet. They also should be aware just how foolish tax credits for working people are.

    And if YBI and Regional Chamber programs need more money to suceed then the State should pony up. But what are the other options Ohio should explore?

  6. I'm ambivalent about Schiavoni's proposal. It won't do anything to address brain drain, but it will provide a tax credit to graduates who would have worked in Ohio regardless. That should be a big help with student loan debt.

    I'm pushing for a program that will turn into entrepreneurs expatriates who are highly motivated to move home.