Saturday, April 07, 2007

Interesting post over at "Change Fort Wayne"

Based on a thread that started on this blog "Change Fort Wayne" has posted a thread on his blog that shows some statistics that are put out by a group called "CEO's for Cities." You can see their data at:

I think that this presentation is very interesting and it actually would tend to disprove or at least disagree with one of my opinions I posted about earlier.

I have always felt that people move to a location due to employment. Looking at my own life I have moved for employment three times and my fourth move was due to family. That is just me and it proves little. I feel that people my age and people who are older then me (I am 39) tend to move based on employment. I have always felt (and been taught) that the most important thing in my life is my family; however, employment is a close second.

The data from the report I linked to above tends to disagree with my belief.

"According to their data 64% of college-educated 25 to 34 year olds report that they will make the decision of where they live first, then look for a job within that area."

When I got out of the navy I had several good friends that got out about the same time I did (1995). We were from all over the US and were stationed in Hawaii. Here is what we did:

1. Myself, I moved to Nebraska due to employment.
2. Dave Montero, he moved to Oregon based on employment.
3. Jan Nimick, he moved to California for emplyment.
4. Devin Demot, he moved to Oregon for employment.
5. "Hooch," he moved to a remote Pacific Island for employment at a weapons disposal facility.

We all moved based on employment. Most of us sent out 500 to 1000 resumes all over the country. Most of us had an associates degree and a skill as a mechanic, electrician, or electronics technician. We would most likely have been considered maintenance or operations people and none of us had a Bachelors Degree.

Maybe the world has changed more then I think. Maybe it is true that college graduates now move based on location more often then employment. If true, this would really "blow my mind."

That would actually change some of my thoughts on economic development.

I am very curious as to what you think about this issue.

Please list your personal experiences with moving in the comment section and please let us know why you moved each time you did move.

Mike Sylvester


david said...


Hopefully this doesn't turn into too long of a story but here is mine:

I graduated from Purdue University in 2000 as a Computer Scientist at the height of the dotcom boom. I had 6 job offers:

- Microsoft, Seattle
- Apple Computer, Cupertino, CA
- Lockheed Martin, Philidelphia
- Schlumberger, Austin, TX
- Sistina, Minneapolis, MN
- Crowe, Indianapolis

Everyone of these jobs was awesome. I definitely wanted to leave Indiana to a place more vibrant. My biggest decision maker was location. I wanted a smaller city with the good night life, culture, etc. Being from Ft Wayne, I wasn't ready for a Seattle. I chose Austin, TX. Megan and I loved Austin - the life for young singles was awesome and it wasn't a huge city. Its size was smaller than Indianapolis, but larger than Ft Wayne. Everyone went downtown on the weekends - it was an incredible melting pot of people and culture. You could feel the energy there and people were prowd of their city (we miss that sometimes here)

We decided to move back to IN when my sister had a child and my parents were retiring. Megan did not want to come back. It was purely for family. Megan and I like Ft Wayne but since being back (3 years) we have lost 3 good friends to other cities that wanted more vibrant communities.

I like Fort Wayne, but I recognize it has a pretty hard sticker shock for people out of college looking for a place to meet others like them. Two big deterrents for our recruiting has been there is no good central entertainment district and there are no advanced degrees. As crazy as it sounds, Fort Wayne needs to be more dazzling if it wants to attract and retain those 20-30 somethings.

People in Fort Wayne get married very young and start families much younger than other cities. For the young, single professional crowd this can be shocking coming from another city. I think Fort Wayne can be a great place for a family AND be a great place for young, single professionals. This is all I want to see and why downtown improvement is so important to me. I don't want to move my company to Indianapolis or Austin, etc, but if my employees (all under 35) are unhappy with Fort Wayne I may eventually have no choice. Harrison Square or not, I need downtown to become more vibrant.

Talk to an ITT recruiter sometime. Relocating families to FWA is a snap, but relocating a young, single can be pretty tough unless they were from here originally.

D Corcoran

Park or Die said...


I wasn't very picky after I graduated college. I would have moved anywhere.

However, most of my friends zeroed in on a few cities (none being Fort Wayne) and focused their job search in only those cities.

I was suprised at some of the cities they were choosing. One ended up in Grand Rapids and another in Toledo. If GR and Toledo can do it, Fort Wayne can certainly become an attractive place for young college grads.

That's why I think Harrison Square is a small, but positive step in making Fort Wayne attractive for employers and job seekers

I lucked out and ended up in a city I really wanted to be in while having a job I really like.

Hopefully I'll end up back in Fort Wayne at some point.

Park or Die said...


You hit the nail on the head.

Dan Carmody said...


CEO for Cities is a well respected group of corporate types that have organized as their name would imply to build support for cities around the country since their has not been much a Federal urban agenda since Nixon.

That hasn't been such a bad thing (my libertarian streak showing here) given how bad most of the Johnson Nixon agenda was for cities -urban renewal for example.

Mike another qualit source for info regarding how gen xer's address life choices is Rebecca Ryan a Milwaukee-based consultant who will be presenting at a major arts development conference in Indianapolis on 27-28 April.

Her firm is called Next Generation Consulting and she has done some very interesting research.

For example, one of the reasons why Nashville has become a destination for young people is because its so accessible to the beach.

At first she thought it was about nearby lacks but was soon corrected - it was the presence of a Southwest Airlines hub that allowed cheap weekend getaways to the gulf coast.

Different generatations view things differently. The millenium babies that are just now entering the work force will have different desires as they mature as a generation.

The Fourth Turning(Howe& Strauss)is a very interesting read about how in America events have helped mold generations into four archtypes that in turn help mold events.

scott said...

Good post Dave. In my opinion, whether or not Fort Wayne recognizes the changing workforce and takes steps to adapt will determine the city's success in the future.

Andrew Kaduk said...

It should be noted here that 20 years ago, Toledo dumped obscene amounts of money into its downtown/riverfront area, with a choir of naysayers singing their disapproval the entire time. This was done for exactly the reasons that Fort Wayne's civic leaders are currently lamenting: sprawl, brain-drain, blight and a waning sense of "community."

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Well I must say this has been very interesting. I still cannot get over the fact that so many college graduates decide where they want to live and move to that location; then after they move they look for a job.

That is a completely alien concept to me. I have never moved somewhere until I had a job lined up...

I am 39 so I am a bit older then many of you and I guess that must make a difference.

Another thing that most likely makes a difference is I did not have a Bachelors Degree when I got out of the navy. I had several job offeres; however, I am not sure that I could have gotten a job just anywhere.

My wife most likely could have gotten a job anywhere after she graduated from college...

This thread has really got me thinking...

Maybe we do have to try to determine what we need to do to make Fort Wayne a more attractive location for both individuals and businesses...

I have always thought the focus should be on businesses...

Mike Sylvester

Jeff Pruitt said...

After I graduated college I decided I was going to move to whichever place provided the job that sounded the most interesting. This is where I ended up and I don't have any regrets. Before I agreed to an interview here I had never heard of Fort Wayne.

The truth is Fort Wayne is NEVER going to attract the people that make decisions based on location - NEVER EVER. Austin IS a beautiful city and for a variety of reasons it will ALWAYS be a better city than Fort Wayne. The same thing can be said about Denver, Seattle, San Diego, LA, Chicago etc.

The best thing Fort Wayne can do is to try and attract the best jobs possible to the area so that people have a CHOICE in whether to leave or not. Currently there are not enough jobs for those who WOULD want to stay. If we're trying to compete w/ the cities I continuously hear about then we are doomed to failure...

Dan Carmody said...


Austin is one of the most overrated of natural beauty in the US of A. Its reputation is a combination Texas bravado (the biggest, best for which the country is paying an enormous price right now) and Texas competition. Compared to Dallas, Houston and Lubbock Austin is gorgeous.

Now with regard to the other hot spots. We wont be able to compete with the bigger cooler cities cause they have natural beauty and a much more deep and diverse job market.

We do need to compete better with our peer cities and hope to move up the ladder with time.

Fargo ND, Omaha, NE, and Springfield, MO are kicking ass what can we learn from them.

Grand Rapids does better than us in a state with a far worse (UAW) business climate than us.

Cedar Rapids, Rochester MN, Peoria, IL, and Green Bay-Apleton WI, all seem to be outperforming us. None of them are state capitals or big university towns - what can we learn, what do we need to do better to get a bigger piece of the heartland pie.

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Dan Carmody:

Very well said. I agree that we should aim to compete with other Midwestern Cities.

I have lived all over the United States and Omaha was one of my two favorite places to live...

Mike Sylvester

Jeff Pruitt said...


I fully agree that we should attempt to compete w/ those cities.

I strongly disagree that Austin is overrated. I've been there numerous times and it's a beautiful place and the tech sector combined w/ the large university population gives it an amazing atmosphere.

Scott Greider said...

Great discussion. Greatest thing by far, though, is seeing Mike bend a bit. And him actually being okay with that!

Way to go, Mike!

Dan Carmody said...


Most of my favorite music comes out of Austin. I didn't say it didn't have a great atmosphere I only think the natural beauty of the hill country is overstated because of lack of competition in Texas.

Three other comments with regard to Austin:

In this age cities with the resources of a major research university and the stablity of being the state capitol should suceed.

That begs the question which is the best place to live/work of these cities


2. Austin really proves the point between a healthy arts scene and business success. The tech sector owes much of its success to the resevoir of musical talent it drew from in its early years per several I have talked to from Austin.

3. Austin continues to link arts and economic development with one of the best festivals in the country. Every March South By Southwest SXSW combines music, film, and computer gaming in very creative ways.

Jeff your are absolutely corrent that Austin has a great quality of life and a great local economy. I just think there are parts of Arkansas that have superior natural beauty and really lousy local economies.

Jeff Pruitt said...

Ok it looks like I misunderstood your post then. There certainly are parts of Arkansas, Missouri, Tenn, Utah, etc w/ better natural beauty but inferior quality of life - in that we do agree.

In the list you provide I would list Austin and Albequerque as clear #1-2. No other city listed is even in the same league...

Andrew Kaduk said...

My brother and his wife moved to Albuquerque right after they graduated from college a couple of years ago. My brother didn't have a job, but he's pretty marketable having a marketing degree from IU/Kelley. They lived in an apartment for a little over a year and then built a brand new house just south of Rio Rancho (really nice area). They are a mile from a state park, the open desert is in their back yard and they have a beautiful veiw of the Sandia Mountains out their front window (about 10 miles away).

They are getting ready to move back to Indiana to be close to their families as they start having kids...but they are both adamantly opposed to even considering Fort Wayne. There is nothing here that interests either one of them.

1) Susan likes to shop, and the shopping here is the same as every other town of this size.

2) They like outdoor adventure, and there's precious little of that to be had here.

3) They like trying new and unique restaurants, and there is nothing remarkably "unique" about most of what Fort Wayne offers. There is no "regional flavor" or specialty cuisine that is specific to here.

4) Susan is a teacher, and teachers don't get paid much here.

The list is actually quite a bit longer, but really, it doesn't even have to be, especially for the purposes of our discussion here.

You get the picture, I'm sure.

Robert Enders said...

You can put a spoiler and flame decals on a minivan but it is still a minivan. Fort Wayne's fundamental nature as a typical Midwestern town won't be changed by Harrison Square. Fort Wayne's appeal is that it is a good place to raise a family. My parents moved here from Chicago after I was born. They felt that it wasn't safe for me to grow up in such a "vibrant" city.

david said...

Scott is right. Those cities that recognize the economy has changed will succeed. Ft Wayne can be much more than just a great place to raise a family. We must be able to compete within the Midwest at a minimum, which is good, there are a lot of smart people from the Midwest. Please don't say we cannot do it, I firmly believe we can.

Bartleby said...

Mr. Sylvester, I must give credit where it's due: thank you for hosting all these amusing save-our-downtown comment threads over these past weeks. I haven't participated, but I've certainly been entertained.

Anybody here remember that classic of 70's cinema, "Blazing Saddles?" These comment dialogues are so reminiscent of the town meeting in Rock Ridge's church. I'm just not sure who gets the credit for playing Gabby Johnson, that fount of authentic frontier gibberish. There seem to be many candidates.

Vibrant: the new rare-it.

Andrew Kaduk said...

Fantastic! We will now unveil the Robert Enders plan for Fort Wayne's future:

"Fort Wayne: A nice place to hide your family from the evils of those big cities you've all read about."

We'll be awash with college edjumacated brainpower in no time.

Robert Enders said...

A debate between Bartleby and Sam T? I'd pay to see that. Seriously Bartleby, I need you help. These people are trying to brainwash Mike. That post was good but not everyone gets pop culture references. I don't think everyone saw the monorail episode of "The Simpsons".

To everyone else: I recognize that the economy has changed, but it continues to change. I cannot anticipate which sectors are going to experience the most growth. If you possess such an ability, then you'll know which companies to invest in. If you turn out to be wrong, you will lose your shirt. Investors have to diversify their portfolios. So do cities. Instead of writing a big check to Hardball, we should cut property taxes for every type of business.

david said...

I do agree that a city cannot forecast economic growth and must diversify appropriately. If anyone remembers Houston in the early 80's, this is a good example. On the other hand we can become more agile and recognize change prior and while it is happenning instead of after it happens. We also must focus our economic development outreach to certain sectors, in my mind: financial, health care, and technology. Even higher end, higher margin manufacturing will endure outsourcing. We are in a knowledge based economy where people will have to have continued education in order to succeed - this trend will not reverse. This is why advanced degrees and making ourselves attractive to the academic population and the resulting young professionals is so important as a region.

David C.

david said...

I'll also note that I think Fort Wayne doesn't have to fit the mold of a typical midwest city. I believe with some focused revitalization and jump starting - we can become attractive to young professionals and entrepreneurs and also be a great place to start a family. We can have our cake and eat it too, and not have the problems of cities several times our size. It seems that quarterly I hear of a Fort Wayne native that was part of a sale of an Internet company or IPO:,,, and others. We create some amazing people here and then we let them take their success (and $$) elsewhere. The future success of Fort Wayne is not going to be in attracting large companies to the area through tax incentives and property tax decreases - it will be in harvesting the small companies and entrepreneurs that are here, attracting new ones, and helping them recruit the talent they need by creating an environment attractive to their employee base.

Property tax incentives help low margin, high employee, factory type companies that need lots of space and lots of equipment.

The success of knowledge based companies is in their people and attracting highly educated, competitive people - this is way more important than any property tax incentive.

If in 10 years we become competitive to other Midwest cities, we have been successful.

David C

Robert Enders said...

Allen County's population grew by 5% last year, according to the JG. This is good sustainable growth, and not all of it is due to the birth rate. People wouldn't be moving here if they didn't think it's a nice place to live.

Sorry if the "hayseeds" aren't as pretty as the people that you see on TV.

Andrew Kaduk said...

Go ahead, Robert...make fun of me...but I'm not suggesting that a "prettier" population has anything to do with this, you hatched that little idea on your own. I don't think this discussion has ever been about enticing the "beautiful people" to come here...and it probably won't...we don't have beaches or enough sun to keep their tans/vanity properly maintained.

This is about developing a robust local economy where markets abroad desire our products and services enough that we may see a marked increase in the spending power of local consumers and businesses alike. For most local businesses, a 5% decrease in property tax (which is fairly substantial) would not be enough savings to add even one skilled, full-time employee to the payroll. That's the problem with putting all of our eggs into the "just lower taxes and see what happens" basket.

David pretty much nailed this one...we need industry fueled by brainpower and dollar-dense manufacturing. The age of mega-plants kicking out 12-cent widgets at 5% gross profit margin is waning, but that is the industrial model which still captivates much the local mindset.

scott said...

Great posts Dave.

Robert Enders said...

If you are going to build something dollar dense, you would want to build it in a place with low property taxes. While most businesses would not save enough to hire another person, they could use that money to buy more equipment, make improvements on the building, increase the dividends to shareholders, etc. This will result in net job growth in Fort Wayne. Any economist who doesn't work for the DNC will tell you that cutting taxes helps the economy and job growth.

Bartleby said...

Mr. Enders: thanks for your kind words a couple of posts up. But I really don't see much point in talking principled political philosophy in this forum ... I don't think there are many people who'd recognize a principle if it nibbled at their gluteus maximi. What I see here are people whose only question about Mussolini is whether he really can make the trains run on time.

As for having a "debate" with Sam T., I guess I've heard of unlikelier ideas ... but I can't seem to remember just when.

Live long and prosper.

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