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Heartland Tech Weekly: Luring big fish back to a small pond

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The idea of how to get skilled workers to stay in — and return to — the Heartland is something we discuss frequently here in the Heartland Tech channel. City leaders might be tempted to cite cost of living stats, like the price of an average 2-bedroom apartment, to convince big city transplants to come home. But the reality is that for many, the decision to return home is driven by nostalgia.

Last month, researcher Jill Harrison surveyed 22 people who had grown up in Youngstown, Ohio, and returned to the city after leaving sometime during adulthood. Harrison. Harrison found that transplants didn’t return home just to save money on rent or to get a bigger house for the family; they returned home because they wanted to make a difference in a place that they had some strong emotional connection to.

As one survey participant told Harrison, “One thing about being back here is that you are a big fish in a small pond. In New York and Chicago there is no way. You are a cog in a great big machine.”

What this means: City leaders would be wise to market their hometowns as not just places where young professionals might be able to rise up the career ladder more quickly, but also places where they can be a part of a meaningful revitalization effort. As summarized by CityLab cofounder Richard Florida, “A common thread in Harrison’s interviews is of people returning to make a difference: to build entire lives — not just careers — in a real, authentic place whose stamp their lives can bear.”

Please send feedback, news tips, or story suggestions to me via email — bookmark our Heartland Tech Channel, and please remember to share these #HeartlandTech stories on TwitterLinkedIn, and Facebook.

Thanks for reading,
Anna Hensel
Heartland Tech Reporter

P.S. Please enjoy this video from Forbes, “Can we pop the Silicon Valley bubble?

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