Brain Gain in Legacy Cities

By Nicholas Hamilton

My fellow urban policy thinker and sometimes debating partner Aaron Renn at the Manhattan Institute just released a report on Brain Gain in America’s Shrinking Cities. Next City ran an article on Thursday on the topic with some interesting examples of the types of programs Renn advises against. Renn makes some essential points to which every leader in a legacy city should take note. It boils down to this: “brain drain” isn’t happening in your city or it isn’t happening the way you think it is, so change your strategy. (Update: See Renn’s latest article about this in Syracuse.) His main points are pasted below, but the full report is well worth the read and is packed with insightful charts and tables that unpack these observations.

  • Every major metro area in the country that has been losing population and/or jobs is actually gaining people with college degrees at double digit rates.
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Upstate “Legacy Cities” Gain the Most from Regional Approaches to Economic Development

Download and share the report (complete press release here) that calls upon elected, business, and civic leaders to double down on innovative and regionally focused approaches to economic development for Upstate NY’s “Legacy Cities”—a term being adopted by a growing number of those working to improve America’s older industrial cities that have experienced significant population loss.

The report summarizes input from over one hundred public, private, and non-profit sector leaders recently assembled from across New York State to prioritize economic development strategies. Lieutenant Governor Duffy, charged the policy workshop participants to identify key Upstate Legacy City revitalization priorities for practitioners and policy makers. Moreover, the recommendations provide critical tools to encourage and inform a growing national dialogue on the future of Legacy Cities and their critical role in 21st century economic prosperity and quality of life.… Read More