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Published: Friday, 11/7/2003

Outward bound

The 2000 Census told us that 50,000 more people left Ohio than moved in during the previous decade. Though a modest surge in births led overall population figures to rise, more bad news was yet to come regarding the out-migration of Ohioans.

A fresh analysis of young, single, and college-educated Ohioans between 25 and 39, in the years from 1995 to 2000, indicates that Ohio lost 18,400 more of them than it brought in.

At 88 out of every 1,000 people with these characteristics gone, the state has lost a big chunk of its best and brightest.

Metropolitan Toledo - Lucas, Wood, and Fulton counties - fared worst in Ohio, no surprise. It had 13,242 young, single, college-educated people in 1995, and 10,728 in 2000.

A large number of people in this subset, 6,084, moved out; 3,027 moved in. The census puts Toledo s rate of decline for this group at a staggering 230.9 per 1,000. In contrast, the Columbus rate was 2.7 per 1,000; Cincinnati 45.4, and Cleveland 15.8.

And where did this highly mobile group go? Largely, but not always, to everywhere that everyone else goes: to cities, not suburbs, in the south and west: Naples, Fla.; Las Vegas; Charlotte, N.C.; Atlanta, and Portland, Ore. The cities welcome them because they pay higher taxes and tend not to drain community resources.

This report confirms a “brain drain” from Ohio and metropolitan Toledo - one former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner called his city s biggest problem, and one we ve been asking politicians to address for years.

Going for adventure, or taking time away from family to test one s mettle, is part of being young. And it would not be so bad, in fact it would make sense, to see young, educated Ohioans leaving if young, single, college-educated Americans from other states were moving in. They would represent an exemplary and mutual aversion to the parochialism of staying put. But moving into Ohio is something young, restless, and talented Americans are not doing.

The report points to the state s dilemma. It can t provide good jobs for an educated labor force even as it needs skilled people to attract good jobs.

Toledo, we ve said, needs to be a full-service town for all citizens, including young singles. We need to keep the adventurous, entrepreneurial spirits we ve bred or attract others just like them. The service must include multiple downtown venues for singles, including a health club.

If Toledo s mayor and city council can t figure out what to do, let them check out Grand Rapids, Mich. s downtown and Charlotte, N.C. s economic development program. These are places that are doing these things a lot better than we are.

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