Thursday, June 16, 2005

It's a stable workforce we want, yes?

At a meeting of the Western Governor’s Association, Joel Kotkin, an expert on social movements and cities, wafted through the mental fog that contends cities/states should be courting, with taxpayer dollars, the 20somethings…

Breckenridge - The economic health of the West depends on maintaining a mature, well-trained middle-class workforce and not on luring the "hip, cool 25-year-olds" or catering to the mind centers of the universities, the Western Governors' Association was told Sunday.

Kicking off the annual conference of governors from 18 states and three U.S.-flagged Pacific islands, social-trend spotter Joel Kotkin of California noted that cities have focused on attracting the rich or taking care of the poor at the expense of nurturing the middle class, a group that is critical for economic vitality and stability.

"Those hip, cool 25-year-olds are the most mobile part of the population," said Kotkin, author of "The City: A Global History" and an authority on global, economic, political and social trends. "What you really need to do is ... figure out how to attract and maintain a middle class." …

Finally, a voice of reason that suggests; hey if we make our communities functional for families we end up with a stable workforce. What a concept.

Kotkin is making the rounds on the lecture circuit debating Richard Florida -- the father of the pro hip-youth mantra -- and having some success. His work is paying off as policy types are starting to view the issue of growth in more nuanced terms. Thank God. Really, there is nothing more exhausting than the policy types hanging on every whim of one cohort (granted there’s probably more than policy dialogue at work when we talk about fifty year old men, whims and 20somethings).

The real winner for developing a pro-growth policy: make Iowa good for the parents of 10somethings, so that when they send their kids off to college they don’t, in a panic, yell “Run, anywhere but here! We’ll join you as soon as we can!”

Besides, it’s always smart politics when more than one, educated and well versed point of view ends up in the mix.

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