A different view on 'brain drain'


THIS bellyaching over brain drain is giving me a splitting headache.

For goodness sakes. The approach to the issue is dead wrong. Really, who wants to continue living for the rest of their life where they were born, went to school, maybe college too?

Some do. But many young people want to get away from their homestead. Meet new people. Experience different surroundings. See how other folks live. And there s nothing wrong with that. Anything less begins to seem like inbreeding.

All right. That s going a bit far. But you get the point. We may only be separated by six degrees, but too much familiarity breeds contentment and eventually laxness and laziness.

For years there s been enough weeping, whining, and gnashing of teeth about young college graduates leaving Toledo and the Buckeye State. So, guess what? Other communities fret about these issues, too.

Recently we published a report about a survey from a Washington-based research group, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, that found that young people are sprinting for the state s borders. The report said 88 percent of native Ohioans at seven of the state s top colleges are proud of their home state. But as soon as half of them get that sheepskin validating their status as college grads, they book. They are outta here. Toodles. See ya!

Well, duh!

For young people, leaving home is what they do. True, there are exceptions. But the fact is that the young, adventurous, and brave ones empowered by their parents who help support them until they can stand on their own take flight.

Sometimes they return after college. Sometimes they don t. That s life.

And though I wasn t too surprised that 79 percent of the undergraduates from other states say they want to leave, too, shouldn t they be the people that city officials put their attention on?

If Buckeye State natives find other cities attractive and interesting, shouldn t Toledo authorities market T-town to woo restless college grads from other places?

Makes sense to me.

True, young Toledoans say they would stay if they could find jobs. And some also say Toledo is too much of a family town, that it s not a singles, young-professional, up-and-coming, movers-and-shakers place.

But that s why economic development, recreation, entertainment, good schools, affordable housing, and other quality of life issues are key roles in attracting skilled employees. The folks on the 22nd floor of Government Center don t need me to tell them that or do they?

Meanwhile, though, until the budget deficit and these economic pits are behind us, perhaps we can put our thinking caps on backwards OK, then, think outside the box and come up with new ideas about how to grow Toledo, Lucas County, and Ohio.

There s value in selling Toledo as the place where it s relatively easy to get around. There are good schools here. Quality-of-life sites, activities, and events enhance living here.

Even in light of the housing debacle, housing is still affordable. Would you prefer to pay half a million bucks for a modest house in an expanding metropolis or a 100 grand or so for one with grassy knolls here?

Don t misunderstand. The city, county, and state have big problems. So big that nobody seems to be able to get a handle on them.

But taking an optimistic approach, we ll get out of this, sooner or later though it s starting to seem like never. And whenever that time comes, hopefully we will have made some steps toward persuading young professional natives from other communities to relocate here.