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Old 01-20-2011, 09:59 AM
 
Location: Lehighton/Jim Thorpe area
2,095 posts, read 2,508,301 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by go phillies View Post
Exactly...just like TMG Health...now that the KOZ is expiring, they're moving out of Scranton and building a new facility in Jessup....with the help of good ol' Austin Burke and the Chamber, of course...

And TMG wasn't just a business starting up when it moved into the incubator...they used to be over on James Ave in the place that's now called "the lofts at the mill." They just moved to the incubator to avoid paying taxes.

McCann Business School did the same thing....they weren't a start up business, they've been around a long time, but they moved into the incubator to avoid taxes, then moved up to Dickson City.

Exactly! The entire state is seeing issues with KOZs. Once they expire, the businesses take off for other opportunity zones.
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Old 01-20-2011, 10:05 AM
 
Location: Lehighton/Jim Thorpe area
2,095 posts, read 2,508,301 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RestonRunner86 View Post
Efforts aren't being made to retain our "best and brightest". A higher percentage of local high school students overall go on to attend college than many other areas; however, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre ranks in the bottom 10% of the largest metropolitan areas in the nation for educational attainment levels of the workforce due to the fact that the majority of our college graduates leave. I can't think of a single high school peer of mine who went on to college, earned a degree, and is now living in the City of Pittston. That should be a HUGE concern. Nationwide many cities are capitalizing upon the "Bright Flight" from the suburbs back into urban environments, but Scranton is missing this prime opportunity.

What might help?

1.) My "pay-for-stay" proposal that I've pitched a couple of times to city council in Scranton to no avail. Local (and perhaps state and Federal) jurisdictions, private donors, a consortium of local colleges and universities, etc. would all pool financial resources to establish a scholarship fund in which students enrolling in local institutions of higher learning would sign a contract agreeing to stay within the city limits for "X" number of years after earning their degrees. The amount of tuition assistance offered would rise incrementally and proportionately with the length of time the student committed to the city. For example, a student might be able to garner grants from this fund for up to 50% of their tuition being reimbursed if they commit to living in the city for at least 10 years after graduation. That might go down to 25% assistance for a 5-year commitment. Maybe 10% assistance for a 1-year commitment.

The benefits? As more and more graduates live in the city, annual census estimates will show a rapidly-increasing proportion of city residents in the workforce possessing higher levels of educational attainment. The Chamber of Commerce could use such a trend as a means to show Scranton as a city that is becoming a "magnet" for skilled young professionals, and more high-paying white-collar opportunities could follow as companies are lured here to capitalize upon that growing talent pool. In addition, the longer these students (especially ones not originally from the area) settle in the city, the more likely they'll be to develop an attachment towards it and decide to raise their families in Scranton, open businesses in Scranton (hiring future graduates in the process), and become active in city politics (ushering in a new wave of progress once self-serving grand-standing "old guard" politicians like Mayor Doherty and Council President Evans are given the boot when city residents finally come to their senses). A more educated city means generally higher median household incomes, which also means more wage tax revenues reaped (resulting in a reduction of the wage tax percentage, benefiting everyone in the process, as you can reap a similar yield from a lower rate with more higher-earners in the mix).

The drawbacks? Yes, it's a bribe. There's no way to avoid the stigma associated with a community being so desperate as it has been ravaged by an incessant "Brain Drain" that it actually needed to resort to PAYING college graduates to stay instead of hoofing it to NJ, NYC, NoVA, DC, MD, and other areas with higher concentrations of employment opportunities commensurate with their degrees. We'd also be faced with another "chicken or the egg" phenomenon in that for perhaps the first 5-10 years the inaugural classes that would participate in this program may largely find themselves trading tuition assistance for underemployment locally while in their 20s, which could stunt their overall career trajectories and result in reduced lifetime earnings. I still know fellow graduates from my 2009 class who are working at Home Depot, Lowe's, or restaurants. Given how negative people in Scranton appear to be and how suspicious they are about change undoubtedly there would be a LOT of stiff opposition to spending one tax dollar on a "gamble" to help ebb the Brain Drain, even if very promising long-term projections were offered indicating this would be a successful program.

2.) High-speed commuter rail to NYC/NNJ. If locals could board a train in Downtown Scranton and have a 75-minute commute each way to work in Northern New Jersey, then this may also help to convince people to live Downtown and pay peanuts for urban living, walk to the train station, relax/sleep/work en route to their offices, earn higher salaries, and then come back "home" to an area with less congestion and a higher quality-of-life. Xenophobic and geocentric Scrantonians claim the train will just bring "drugs" and "gangs" (completely ignoring the fact, of course, that criminals would much prefer to DRIVE across state lines, as they have been doing, to remain more inconspicuous, but I digress). I know I'd move to Downtown Scranton if I learned I could board a train and take it to work at PwC in Florham Park, NJ, for example, in 75 minutes. I wouldn't dare move to Downtown Scranton and then DRIVE to NJ, though, via I-80. I know some who take the Martz bus to NYC daily for work, but I think the train would offer a slightly more expeditious (and more enjoyable) ride.

The benefits? Local college graduates could stay "close to home" yet also have access to career opportunities in adjacent areas that are doing better economically. If Option #1 were implemented, then this option would give graduates the ability to attend school in Scranton at a reduced price, live in Scranton, and ride the rails to career opportunities elsewhere until our area was able to stand on its OWN two feet economically without needing to "leech" off of NJ's white-collar success.

The drawbacks? We'd also face the possibility of a growth spurt of people from NJ moving to NEPA in pursuit of cheaper housing using the train to commute while overrunning the area in the process. This can be avoided through strict urban growth boundaries that would help to funnel and channel new growth into existing residential neighborhoods and that would provide incentives for developers to redevelop existing brownfield sites instead of tearing down trees for new construction in the suburbs; however, you currently don't have anyone foward-thinking enough in office in NEPA who'd be "ballsy" enough to propose urban growth boundaries. We don't want the entire area to end up looking as hideous as South Abington Township. The costs would be astronomical, and the rail line would most certainly NEED to be subsidized by taxpayers to remain afloat (just like SEPTA in Metro Philadelphia or PAT in Metro Pittsburgh).

3.) Develop MORE business incubators.

4.) Stop wasting our precious open space on developments with companies paying low wages for unskilled labor (i.e. CenterPoint in my native Pittston Township, where starting wages tend to be in the $10/hr.-$12/hr. range) and instead develop more white-collar opportunities.
The pay-for-stay proposal sounds okay on paper, but as you said there aren't going to be jobs for these individuals four or five years down the line.

The key thing here is jobs, jobs, jobs. They aren't coming in -- heck, they weren't coming in when the economy was on the uptick. Five years from now these apartment complexes are going to be three-quarters empty, and developers are going to be wondering wtf they were thinking.

Scranton needs to get back to basics before it starts trying to revitalize itself. First become a financially solvent city, and then talk about being a vibrant urban destination.
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Old 01-20-2011, 10:06 AM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
29,606 posts, read 65,576,079 times
Reputation: 15034
Quote:
Originally Posted by frank754 View Post
Reston, you have so many ideas, and sometimes not the best audience here. In addition to posting here, you should set up a blog site, like a free one at WordPress.com Get a Free Blog Here and cut and paste all your best posts from this site there, as well as other new ideas, etc.
Then you could refer people to your blog, especially politicians... your might get some good followers too.
I appreciate the positive feedback and the suggestion, Frank. You'd actually be surprised, though, at how much exposure City-Data gets. Do a Google search for just about anything related to a city or town, and usually a City-Data thread discussing that place will be near the top of the results. I name-dropped City-Data to some local politicians I contacted when I still lived in NEPA. With over a million members most people DO know this site exists. I don't know how much of a "following" I'd garner with my own blog, especially since 90% of the people on here dislike me because they think I'm too "preachy" to begin with. Like it or not different people are passionate about different things in life. Summering and Sheena (and others?) are really into exhange student programs and/or adoptions. For me it's combating sprawl via encouraging redevelopment in existing urbanized areas that are struggling, which most in NEPA don't think is an issue while I think is going to be a pandemic before long.

I have two friends who live in Arlington, VA and Harrisburg, respectively, whom I feel would be a "dream team" with me to take the area by storm politically. My one female friend in VA leans Republican and is really interested in entrepreneurship and encouraging business growth and development. I'm a fiscal conservative with an accounting background who knows more about urban planning through my years of intensive studies than 99% of the armchair quarterbacks in the valley who want to see Montage Mountain's development repeated all over the place. My male friend from Harrisburg is great at "schmoozing", winning people over, and is strong on social justice issues. He also has a legal background. NEPA needs people like US to move back and help shake things up; however, we all feel like we're not wanted because we're now "outsiders". Provincialism/xenophobia has done NOTHING for this region.
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Old 01-20-2011, 10:07 AM
 
Location: NE PA
7,937 posts, read 13,528,128 times
Reputation: 4366
Quote:
Originally Posted by MatildaLoo View Post
Five years from now these apartment complexes are going to be three-quarters empty, and developers are going to be wondering wtf they were thinking.
They'll end up how most of the apartment complexes end up around here....low income senior citizen housing, unless real jobs come to the area.
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Old 01-20-2011, 10:16 AM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
29,606 posts, read 65,576,079 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MatildaLoo View Post
The pay-for-stay proposal sounds okay on paper, but as you said there aren't going to be jobs for these individuals four or five years down the line.

The key thing here is jobs, jobs, jobs. They aren't coming in -- heck, they weren't coming in when the economy was on the uptick. Five years from now these apartment complexes are going to be three-quarters empty, and developers are going to be wondering wtf they were thinking.

Scranton needs to get back to basics before it starts trying to revitalize itself. First become a financially solvent city, and then talk about being a vibrant urban destination.
Unfortunately, Matilda, this goes back to the Catch-22 situation of employers not wanting to move to an area with an unskilled workforce (without subsidies), an unskilled workforce that sees no incentivization to become more skilled with no higher-paying positions waiting for them, and those who do become skilled leaving like bats out of hell (unless "bribed"). I have so many friends who have Bachelor's Degrees who are working low-wage hourly jobs in industrial parks and at big-box stores or restaurants back in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. They're using their expensive educations to earn peanuts while paying back student loans and are living with their parents while peers who didn't go to college are earning the same wages, don't have the student loans to pay back, and are actually enjoying themselves. The "Great Recession" hasn't affected all areas equally. Pittsburgh and DC, the two cities I've lived in over the past few years, both have relatively strong job markets because both are heavily-diversified. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre? Not so much.
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Old 01-20-2011, 10:21 AM
 
27,993 posts, read 19,602,057 times
Reputation: 16471
Quote:
Originally Posted by RestonRunner86 View Post
Unfortunately, Matilda, this goes back to the Catch-22 situation of employers not wanting to move to an area with an unskilled workforce (without subsidies), an unskilled workforce that sees no incentivization to become more skilled with no higher-paying positions waiting for them, and those who do become skilled leaving like bats out of hell (unless "bribed"). I have so many friends who have Bachelor's Degrees who are working low-wage hourly jobs in industrial parks and at big-box stores or restaurants back in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. They're using their expensive educations to earn peanuts while paying back student loans and are living with their parents while peers who didn't go to college are earning the same wages, don't have the student loans to pay back, and are actually enjoying themselves. The "Great Recession" hasn't affected all areas equally. Pittsburgh and DC, the two cities I've lived in over the past few years, both have relatively strong job markets because both are heavily-diversified. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre? Not so much.
You say in one breath that companies won't come here because of the unskilled work force, yet in the next breath you lament the BA holders in our area who cannot find a professional job. There are educated people in this area. Many of them. The problem is not an unskilled workforce. The problem is exorbitant business taxes in urban areas and a woefully bad infrastructure.
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Old 01-20-2011, 10:23 AM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
29,606 posts, read 65,576,079 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by go phillies View Post
They'll end up how most of the apartment complexes end up around here....low income senior citizen housing, unless real jobs come to the area.
Agreed, Go Phillies, but this once again goes back to the "chicken or the egg".

Good jobs require skilled workers.
Skilled workers won't stay in an area that doesn't have good jobs.
Unskilled workers won't become skilled if there aren't any more skilled opportunities available.
Good jobs won't come to an area with an unskilled workforce.

This "Brain Drain" is something Scranton/Wilkes-Barre has been battling for DECADES now, and it's a shame nobody sees it as a legitimate concern. For God's sake neither Bob Bolus, Gary DiBileo, nor Mayor Doherty knew what the "Brain Drain" even was during a mayoral debate a couple of years ago, and it's in my opinion one of the largest hurdles the city's recovery faces!

My "pay-for-stay" program would be expensive and would be "bribery". I'll admit it's not a "great" idea, but at least it IS an idea. I've yet to hear any other strategies on how to retain our top talent here, which in and of itself will help lure those better jobs here. Employers flock to cities that have a large concentration of brain power. No offense, but at least right now even with all of its universities Scranton/Wilkes-Barre is not one such area. The Twin Cities? Yes. NJ? Yes. NoVA/DC? Yes. Pittsburgh? Increasingly yes. Boston? Yes. These areas all have a very high population of college graduates, ranging from roughly 35% of the population in Pittsburgh to roughly 75% in many DC suburbs. Higher skilled employees command higher-paying salaries, which are available via "good jobs".

I'm sorry so many on here hate me for being "preachy" all the time, but I'm just irked that so many will bash me, Doherty, Burke, etc. while offering no viable alternatives. My idea might be a huge success after 5-8 years of implementation, as that rapidly-skilled workforce still living locally lures in better employers. It may also fail miserably if numerous graduates renege upon their contracts, pay back their fees, and move so they're not underemployed long-term.
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Old 01-20-2011, 10:27 AM
 
1,305 posts, read 2,237,012 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magritte25 View Post
You say in one breath that companies won't come here because of the unskilled work force, yet in the next breath you lament the BA holders in our area who cannot find a professional job. There are educated people in this area. Many of them. The problem is not an unskilled workforce. The problem is exorbitant business taxes in urban areas and a woefully bad infrastructure.

Correct Maggs,
With the numerous colleges , Universities and trade schools in our area turning out graduating classes every year, Restons argument doesnt hold water.. Theres plenty of potential employees, but no employers.
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Old 01-20-2011, 10:27 AM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
29,606 posts, read 65,576,079 times
Reputation: 15034
Quote:
Originally Posted by Magritte25 View Post
You say in one breath that companies won't come here because of the unskilled work force, yet in the next breath you lament the BA holders in our area who cannot find a professional job. There are educated people in this area. Many of them. The problem is not an unskilled workforce. The problem is exorbitant business taxes in urban areas and a woefully bad infrastructure.
I go back to that ranking of us being 91st out of 100 for the percentage of the workforce with at least a Bachelor's Degree (I believe only 1 in 5 members of the local workforce has a degree). While I'm not some snoot who thinks those with degrees are inherently "better" than people without them you also can't deny the fact that areas with higher concentrations of college graduates also have higher-paying jobs out the wazoo (i.e. NoVA). That's not a coincidence. It seems like so many in NEPA who don't have degrees want to earn the same salaries as those in NJ/NYC, SEPA, NoVA, etc. do.

Let's be honest. If you're not entrepreneurial and don't have a desire to learn a trade (i.e. plumbing, masonry, carpentry, etc.), then your options to be a high-earning blue-collar worker in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre are slim-to-none. Too many people can't accept the fact that the era of your father getting you a job at his factory when you graduated high school are over and aren't coming back. It's time to digest that and accept it, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Cinram? Gone. Techneglas? Gone. Many others will be kicking the bucket over the next decade.
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Old 01-20-2011, 10:32 AM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
29,606 posts, read 65,576,079 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnqpublic View Post
Correct Maggs,
With the numerous colleges , Universities and trade schools in our area turning out graduating classes every year, Restons argument doesnt hold water.. Theres plenty of potential employees, but no employers.
The problem is:

1.) Most college graduates flee as soon as they earn their degrees, which means these people aren't reflected in annual census estimates as having degrees. Those who stay are often underemployed long-term (i.e. peers of mine with B.S. degrees who work at Home Depot, Lowe's, and Starbuck's for low hourly wages).

2.) One factor (of many) prospective high-paying employers look for is the percentage of the local workforce that would have the skills necessary to work there. Like it or not while I know many inept college graduates and many very talented non-college graduates a degree is often your "ticket" to an interview nowadays. If our area awards 5,000 Bachelor's Degrees every year, and if 4,500 of those people move away to NYC, NJ, SEPA, NoVA, Pittsburgh, Boston, CT, etc., then are we really improving our local skill set that much?

3.) Better employers than Wal-Mart, Mohegan Sun, Home Depot, etc. won't come to take a look at us until we find away to stop the fleecing of our area's best and brightest. I'd LOVE to see PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) open up shop in the Southern Union Building, hiring 100 CPAs and fresh accounting graduates alike with $40,000 starting salaries plus benefits. Is that going to happen when nearly every member of the 2009 King's College B.S. in Accounting class, as just one local example, is now living outside the area?
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