Let's Unite to Draw Distressed Coastal Residents


Thousands of people on the coasts are pleading for help getting out of the urban enclaves from which they once looked down their noses at us, out in Flyover Country.

How should we respond? By taking advantage of an economic-development opportunity for the ages.

The reports by now have become too numerous to dispute: People in droves are leaving, or want to leave, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and other once-formidable coastal outposts. Now they want to get the heck out of Dodge because of the inhospitable results of Covid-19 lockdowns, the dispersal of white-collar work away from offices in Manhattan and Mountain View and Redmond, violent protests and calls to defund the police that are actually getting traction, and the ruination of restaurants and theaters and sports stadiums and museums and other entertainment and cultural venues that traditionally have helped define life in these places.

In other words, many of the things that used to make life worth living in these hugely expensive and fundamentally inconvenient cities … have vanished, and many aren’t likely to return. So, many of their residents are acting rationally.

Consider this stat: A survey of San Francisco Bay Area tech workers in mid-May found that 42 percent would move to a less-expensive city if their employer asked them to work remotely full time. Many of these people already seem to be putting their money where their mouths are. There were 96 percent more property listings in San Francisco in the first week of August compared with a year earlier, according to Zillow.

So where are these people going? That’s a good question. They’re going all over, and wherever. And that’s why we in Flyover Country need to have a plan for snaring them.

Here’s my plan: The states and cities of the heartland should pull together in a concerted effort to put our case before these individuals and the companies to which they’re attached, and improve their understanding and appreciation of what we do in the rest of the country – and how we’d welcome them to join us.

In other words, CEOs, foundations, governments, state and local agencies and everyone else who’s got a stake in the economic improvement of Flyover Country should band together and recognize that we share a common stake. And that coalescing under a singular effort will be the best way to get the attention of those unfortunate people on the coasts for all the advantages of relocating to the heartland.

Read the rest of this piece at The Flyover Coalition.

Dale Buss is founder and executive director of The Flyover Coalition, a not-for-profit organization aimed at helping revitalize and promote the economy, companies and people of the region between the Appalachians and Rockies, the Gulf Coast and the Great Lakes. He is a long-time author, journalist, and magazine and newspaper editor, and contributor to Chief Executive, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and many other publications. Buss is a Wisconsin native who lives in Michigan and has also lived in Texas, Pennsylvania and Florida.

Image: Flyover Coalition logo. Source: The Flyover Coalition.