The year 2020 has been one of tremendous change and unexpected shake-ups, both in the business world and in life in general. The pandemic currently plaguing the world has caused many to make unforeseen shifts in their lifestyles and careers. One of these shifts has been the phenomenon of a mass migration, or what has also been dubbed an “urban flight” of residents from more dense and expensive urban cities to less crowded—and far more affordable— suburban and rural locales.
Among the two top cities that are seeing a mass exodus are New York City, and the San Francisco Bay Area, home to the mecca of venture capital, Silicon Valley. And this trend only appears to be growing, most likely to accelerate even further as more people are forced to work remotely due to safety precautions and enforced social distancing measures.
Although this is indeed a huge change for entrepreneurs in the areas that were being forced to take a backseat to the monoliths of Silicon Valley and New York, this could be the open door to future growth and thriving. This is indeed a new era of office culture, and it will be the cities and companies that learn quickly how to adapt that can bring a high-growth, innovation mindset to the table that thrive as the world forges forward.
So what is the best way for cities (and companies looking to grow and attract talent) to accomplish this feat? Focusing on not only attracting established corporations and expertise to the area but also seeking innovators should be at the very top of the list. In my opinion, entrepreneurs are, by definition, job creators.
However, up until now, creating such a culture in more far-flung regions like the Midwest has proven difficult; local talents have always been attracted away to the afore-mentioned meccas like California and New York. Now is the time—and golden opportunity—to bring that talent back home, otherwise known as the “boomerang” effect.
Boomerangs can have a multiplier effect, building companies, creating thousands of jobs, and contributing to the economy. Also, boomerangs, after spending stints in the tech and venture capitalism hubs of Silicon Valley and such, upon moving back home, will bring this high-growth, successful mindset right along with them.
Now, as you focus on bringing boomerangs back home, there are some essential things to consider to ramp up your appeal. First and foremost, you must make them want to return. Highlight the things that are most attractive, exciting, and appealing in your area, including what is happening with local entrepreneurs. People want to be where the action is.
Once you reveal what is happening, highlight the local “who’s who” by promoting other boomerangs. This not only adds credit to your locale as being one that is on the cusp of hyper-growth and on its way up but also helps spread the word that your local community is committed to supporting entrepreneurship.
There could also be programs developed, like Venture For America, but specifically for boomerangs. VFA brings recent college graduates to cities across the country, to work in the startup world, so why couldn’t we employ a program like this for boomerang fellows? A final thought is the idea of forming a collaborative partnership with your local universities. As these institutions already pay local executives to help commercialize the technologies that are being spun out of their research departments, utilizing a portion of that capital to attract alumni entrepreneurs with that same hyper-growth background to fill this role instead seems like a no-brainer.
As alternate regions begin to set their sights on bringing that high-growth, Silicon Valley mindset—and subsequent talents—to their backyards, it will be the ones that figure it out the soonest and can incorporate those changes that will be best poised to succeed and thrive as time marches on. Will you be among them?