Nearly every week I meet with CEOs. While each delivers a unique solution to the marketplace, it’s telling to see how many struggle with the same problem: A dearth of talent and innovation. How do we reverse this trend?
For starters, we must graduate significantly more work-ready leaders at every level to enhance and expand the Midwest’s workforce.
Second, we must keep more graduates from taking their talents elsewhere. If this means paying higher starting salaries, we should do so with the long view in mind. After all, making this investment on the front end will be far less expensive than relocating mature, out-of-region talent on the back end.
Finally, we must attract more individuals to the Midwest. Part of this strategy involves recognizing how much talent resides beyond our national borders. Did you know half of all patents awarded by the US over the past decade have been to immigrants?
Imagine if the Midwest became a destination for international talent headstrong on building their ideal futures here in the Heartland. Here I am reminded of David Brooks’s theory that America is at its best when viewed as a frontier and not a fortress.
In sum, the Midwest must be a magnet for talent and innovation. Research by the economist Enrico Moretti reveals that for a city that lands one new high-tech job, five additional jobs are ultimately created beyond that sector. That multiplier effect is a game changer for a city’s trajectory.
The upshot for the Midwest is simple: We cannot miss the surging talent and innovation movement, because it (and it alone) will define America’s standing in the 21st century.