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March 19, 2007

Richard Florida

The Mobility Paradox

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Over at Burghdiaspora, Jim Russell comments on my post on the Stuck and the Mobile:

"I suggest  helping The Stuck become The Mobile. ...Thus, I have a paradox: If a region encourages mobility, how might it benefit from its investment? What I observe is that places such as "Detroit, Buffalo, or Pittsburgh" suffer from poor demographic churn. Relative to other regions, few people are actually leaving. The deep attachment to place discourages out-migration. The resulting landscape is increasingly parochial, building a barrier to in-migration. When this happens, the best thing you could do for your citizens is to encourage them to move to improve. Concurrently, the region in question should foster links for these nomads back to home. I figure that these Parochial Argonauts retain an abnormal connection to the place where they grew up."

From where I sit, he's absolutely right. Your thoughts?


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Makes perfect sense and dovetails somewhat with recent discussions at "The Brazen Careerist" (blog.penelopetrunk.com) about people taking risks and trying new things in their 20s -- this could include living in another city with a more dynamic economy.

Cities struggling economically often desperately need new ideas. If this can't come from international immigration or national migration, it could come from (young) locals going away for a few years, getting inspired, learning new ways of doing things, making new contacts and then returning (perhaps when ready to have their own families) to make a business or organization work in their home town.

I recall a tv news story about brothers from a small town in Eastern (Atlantic) Canada who went to work in the Alberta oil sands for about a year. They came back determined to get their town's main fish packing plant and largest employer back up and running so they wouldn't have to go back to the oil sands. And, I received the impression thatthey returned with some "Alberta boom-region confidence" that anything is possible, which helped them get that plant up and running.


Wendy-- Thank you. I agree. Plus I am a huge Penelope Trunk fan!

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