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Old 05-21-2013, 12:09 PM
Location: Wicker Park/East Village area
2,473 posts, read 3,753,027 times
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While Chicago doesn’t have the strongest economy in the nation, it handily outshines most other Midwestern cities. Edward McClelland, a journalist who grew up in Lansing, Michigan, and has lived in Chicago since 1995, wondered why. How had his adopted city succeeded in becoming one of the world’s most influential metropolises while other once-bustling burgs declined? And how evenly will prosperity be shared going forward? He addresses those questions in his new book, Nothin’ but Blue Skies, excerpted here.

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Old 05-21-2013, 12:19 PM
Location: Berwyn, IL
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Hmm, I may actually have to check this book out.

Sadly (for other mid-western states, at least) brain-drain is a real thing. I've read all the articles out of Michigan, Iowa and Indiana that say their best and brightest can't wait to get the hell out. I can't say that I blame them.
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Old 05-21-2013, 12:26 PM
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I grew up in Iowa, and at least from the parts I'm from have found that people weren't exactly look to get out, they were looking to advance in other very desirable areas. Many many of us landed in Chicago, although all were fiercely proud of the state we were from and had extremely fond loving memories there. Some have moved back to Iowa, but I definitely agree there is a massive brain drain from Midwest states to Chicago.

I have noticed as Des Moines broke through 500,000 in its metro and is now nearly 600,000 that as a white collar city it has really created a brain drain of its own. Many students in the other areas of the state are suddenly open to Des Moines as it reaches a certain critical mass of opportunities. Certainly good news for the state....or at least Des Moines (and Iowa City).

When people say "Chicago is the next Detroit" because of issues of crime, budgets, etc. - they are overlooking the huge aspect that is the city as a massive pull for college grads in their 20's. That pull into (mostly) the north side and the billions in construction and development in the core means Chicago may have lots of issues, but it certainly has no plans on going anywhere.
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Old 05-21-2013, 12:49 PM
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One saving grace of the other states and the smaller Midwestern cities is the fact that some people just prefer living in smaller communities without the hassles of a huge metropolitan area like Chicago--even some of the "best and brightest", as hard as that may be to believe for true-blue Chicago lovers. For instance, the valedictorian of my high school, who was quite a brilliant guy, lives in a smaller Midwestern city as a physician. He will never leave.

It always irritates me when people on the east or west coast can't believe that people would want to live anywhere else outside of these two supposed clusters of culture and intellect (like the Jersey Shore, apparently), and some Chicagoans view the rest of the Midwest this way. I think the Milwaukees and Clevelands of the world will always appeal to some. But the question is, will they be able to contract in a manner that doesn't destroy their appeal as the shift from industrial economies removes large chunks of their populations.

Last edited by Lookout Kid; 05-21-2013 at 01:07 PM..
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Old 05-21-2013, 12:49 PM
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Isn't this more or less obvious?

What's next...an analysis on why people leave Paterson, NJ for Manhattan?
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Old 05-21-2013, 12:54 PM
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What I find very interesting is that a metropolitan area like the San Francisco-Silicon Valley Bay Area is also a magnet for the best and brightest in the tech sector, and as much as people like to hate on greater Los Angeles, it too is large enough to be a magnet for the best and brightest, entertainment is not the only thing there. Yet, people always talk about people leaving California for Dallas, Austin, Portland, Seattle, Denver, Vegas, etc. because of cost of living, taxes, etc. etc. even if opportunities for career advancement are still greater in California.

But in the midwest its not like this. I wonder if the popularity of cities somewhat go in cycles, regardless of the reality of relative opportunities. The only cities in the greater midwest that people see as being a possible cheaper "substitute" the way Portland or Seattle is an alternative to San Francisco, or Houston or Phoenix as an alternative to LA, is Minneapolis or maybe Pittsburgh, and of those two Pittsburgh was the one that went through rustbelt years.

Possibly because California was all the rage from the 60s through 80s as the promised land, whereas the rest of the west seemed a little too "frontierish" at that time, now everyone thinks California is overrated and not worth it. Whereas Chicago during the same time 60s to 80s was seen as being as somewhat of a has-been, aging city, and when cycled up in popularity from the 90s to today.

It will be interesting what the relationship will be among cities within regions in the coming years.
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Old 05-21-2013, 12:55 PM
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I'm from St.Louis and noticed a brain drain when I left many years ago. They say that has turned around but I don't have any statistics to back it up.

I know of many who went to California Texas Georgia New York and many other places. Very few come to Chicago!

I love Chicago for many things but I've never thought of it as a magnet for well educated people like San Francisco or Raleigh/Durham or other cities.
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Old 05-21-2013, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by mjtinmemphis View Post
I love Chicago for many things but I've never thought of it as a magnet for well educated people like San Francisco or Raleigh/Durham or other cities.
It is, whether you've thought of it that way or not.
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Old 05-21-2013, 01:18 PM
Location: CHICAGO
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I will definitely have to read the book. Thank you for sharing.

A lot of this actually applies to me as well. I am a twenty-something getting ready to graduate from college. However, my reasons to want to move to Chicago don't really reflect a lack of opportunity in the cities of the Midwest I have come from. There were jobs in Kansas City; Minneapolis seems to be doing quite well for itself. But to me the appeal of Chicago is the sheer scale of they city, and the diversity that size entails including amenities, jobs, types of people, food, and so on. Chicago acts, in some ways, as a saving grace, a last refuge for Mid-western youth who want to stay within their region, or have dreams of the big city. The way the article talks initially is how Chicago stole the brightest youth from its neighboring states, but who can blame Chicago for being capable? I'm not sure creating a brain-drain was really the goal of their revitalization; it was more like a by-product of the city trying to survive. Chicago was a city built to make things, and the fact that it didn't collapse during de-industrialization is almost a miracle. Not to say it transitioned unscathed...

Also, the article makes interesting point about how success built on corruption always makes sustainability questionable. That is definitely food for thought.
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Old 05-21-2013, 01:30 PM
Location: Maryland
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Originally Posted by mjtinmemphis View Post

I love Chicago for many things but I've never thought of it as a magnet for well educated people like San Francisco or Raleigh/Durham or other cities.
There was actually a recent thread about college graduates in metropolitan areas. Unsurprisingly, Chicago has the third highest raw numbers in the U.S. and over three times that of the next metro area (Twin Cities) in the Midwest, and it currently has the second highest percentage increase in the Midwest, which is interesting considering how large the pool here already is.


I think it's safe to say Chicago is a magnet for well educated people.

Last edited by Maintainschaos; 05-21-2013 at 02:19 PM..
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