Ready to have your socks knocked off?
A few weeks ago a new report was distributed exclusively via email with the title "Brain Gain: Mahoning Valley".
It's an extremely well-written and beautifully laid-out forty page document, describing the current state of the region and offering best practices and ideas for improving the economic development and quality of life in the region.
But this report wasn't requested by a government entity, wasn't created by a consulting firm, wasn't paid for with tax dollars.
It's the product of passion.
This report is based on the efforts of ten individuals, all members of Mahoning Valley's young professionals group. I phoned one of the authors immediately upon finishing the document, to share my thoughts on the quality of the piece. I was even more impressed when she told me the writers composed this report in their free time, meeting on Saturdays at each other's apartments and houses.
They just did it.
No money spent.
A complete volunteer effort. Young people coming together.
The report begins: "The Mahoning Valley is in a state of flux. While the spirit of revitalization is alive and well, many issues continue to obstruct our forward progress . . . It is not the intention of this project restate those issues that have already been addressed, nor is it meant to be a definitive statment on what will "save" our community. Rather, this report should be regarded as a catalyst for current and future administrations, and a foundation for any endeavors meant to enact positive change in our Valley."
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learning from others.
The authors utilize site visits to Akron, Milwaukee, and other cities as well as the concepts perpetuated by consultants like Rebecca Ryan and Richard Florida to add to context to the report.
The look at the region's history, of its people and its innovation, and what brought us to the present moment. They create a profile of the issues that are important to their generation. They provide examples of local companies that are making the successful transition to compete in a global, information-based economy. They profile other regional entities like business chambers and media associations outside of the region that are making an impact.
Their suggestions, well, you're just going to have to read the report . . .
but they end it with this statement:
"As a committee with several "boomerang" participants, we encourage area youth to pursue their education and early career development outside of the Valley, if necessary. We believe that one cannot disregard the importance of diversity of education and experience that the young professionals who return to our Valley will have, which will be crucial to our future success.
Family members and mentors should be asking them to keep an open mind in regards to bringing their talents, skills, and ideas back to the Mahoning Valley. Many of those who move away may become dissatisfied with their experience elsewhere, and would consider returning to the Valley if other local residents or family members encouraged rather than discouraged their decision.
Some may ask what makes our committee the experts on topics addressed in this report. Frankly, we aren't.
However, we are the target audience claimed by local officials and business owners as crucial to the success of this Valley. We all hold at least one degree from institutions of higher education, are well-respected and responsible professionals who volunteer in the community, and - most importantly - we have all chosen to live in the Mahoning Valley, despite numerous opportunities to reside elsewhere.
We are committed to making a difference.
We are committed to family.
We are committed to making this Valley succeed."
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wow. nuff said.
every single person who reads this blog, or is an elected offical, should read their report.
How to access their efforts?
Go along the column on the right side of this webpage, and look for the section "reports to download". There you will see a white button with the words "Brain Gain Report". Clicking on the button will automatically download the pdf to your computer.
And again, to those volunteers who but their sweat equity into this report . . . nice work.