How Can You Keep'em Down On The Farm, Once They've Been To Green Chicago?

If you're a follower of economic development trends you'll have seen articles like this recent one from the Chicago Tribune:- "MADISON, Wis. -- Here's the deal: Students would get four years of reduced or free college tuition in exchange for staying in Wisconsin 10 years after they graduate That's the plan, known as the "Big Bang," from a special state commission that looked at daunting economic projections and decided last week it was time for a "Hail Mary" approach to stave off an era of serious decline in the Dairy State". Per the article, several states have offered or are talking about offering serious tuition incentives to students who promise to live in state for several years after college graduation. The general idea is to keep the "creative class" around long enough that they'll help invent, build, and run new businesses that will replace the jobs that have gone off to Asia. Without much exploration of what graduates are drawn to, government "experts" and journalists characterize the intent of these offers as reversing "brain drain:" people moving from the state of their education, to the city(s)/state(s) they want to live in after graduation. Getting at motive, we have our own green hypothesis to explain the cause of the "brain drain" and some possible solutions for the drained-state politicians to consider. In one way or another, a majority of the cities or city/state combos the "creative class" gravitates to are part of TreeHugger-dom. Check out our previous posts on green cities here and here, or here, for example. There's more here and here. In fact, our archives are full of more and more and more.

Statement of Hypothesis
'Here's the deal:' in accumulating an "attraction" force, green amenities can be as important as the music scene, the odds of meeting other creative people, plenty of affordable housing, job potential, or just a chance to see whole human beings (in many US suburbs, strangers are generally only seen from the shoulders up — in a car or behind a cubie wall).

Want to know how to get a return on the discounted tuition offer? Free money is a good start; but you won't get much value back unless your graduates stay happy while they're under contract: in a sustainable mood to innovate and develop.

Here, then, is a starter-list of value-back tips, written for those concerned Governors and state legislators who might be looking in on TreeHugger land. Regular readers, please comment with suggested additions or revisions.

#1 Drop the 'SUV Capital Of The Heartland' attitude. If you can do that, we promise not to romanticize plug-in hybrids so much.

# 2 Get serious about sidewalks, running trails, and bicycling in general: work with local walk/bike clubs to develop safety programs, park and lock facilities, driver education, corporate incentives, and so on. When the budget crunch comes (as it always does) stand up for the walkers and runners.

# 3 Get public transit into the budget and keep it there. If confused, see Item #1.

# 4 Talk with your state agriculture agencies and extension staffs about organic and locally grown food. Get promotion of these into their budgets and programs —fast.

# 5 Metaphorically speaking, when running for office, don't pose for a photo op at the grand opening of a coal-fired generator. Do, however, pose with renewable energy project openings. Tell the nuclear people you'll come to their shoot if they first get the spent cooling rods out of their ponds — on their own dime.

# 6 Enforce Clean Air, Clean Water, and Solid Waste Management Regulations

# 7 Grab the Green Building ball and run with it. For further information, take a trip to Green Chicago.

#8 Research, experiment, and invest in renewable energy as if the future depended on it.

# 9 Spend a day talking to college seniors to learn what they care about.

Fair disclosure: the author is from Wisconsin. The title is meant in good fun hey.

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