It's Time for Region to Collect Opportunity We Left on the Table


For all the talk about how the pandemic, remote work, social distancing and other huge new developments have dislodged traditional patterns in business and life in America and created vast new opportunities in the process, Flyover Country has left a lot on the table. And it’s time for the economic and political leaders in this region to go back and retrieve it.

When Rick Perry was governor of Texas from 2000 to 2015, he developed the right approach to boosting his state’s economy — not just by extolling the true advantages of doing business in the Lone Star State, but by drawing clear comparisons between what Texas was offering and what California was not. He even went to the extent of very openly traveling to the business-hostile Golden State to poach dissatisfied companies. It worked, and the capital and brain drain from the West Coast to Texas continues.

We need more of that spirit today. Flyover Country and our various sub-regions and states basically booted a golden opportunity presented by Covid to reshuffle the deck and upset the ossified imbalance in economic power between the coasts and the heartland that has held sway for a half-century. Government authorities on the edges of the United States were especially draconian in shutting down their economies as the disease spread, causing millennial families and young workers on the coasts to rethink their financial and living situations.

Blown Chance

But did we in Flyover Country take advantage of a generational opportunity to highlight what our region, our states, cities, suburbs and rural locales have to offer to coastal denizens yearning to be free of urban decay, sky-high housing prices and general social ennui in California, New York, the Pacific Northwest and the East Coast?

Not so much. There has been some movement, but demographers will tell you most of the migration during and since the pandemic has occurred in a movement from city centers, wherever they are, to the suburbs of the same metropolises. Even at a time of wickedly spiking housing prices (since eased, of course) and unprecedented freedom for white-collar folks to work wherever they wanted to, we couldn’t create ant trails from beleaguered big coastal enclaves to the wide-open, affordable, navigable and welcoming spaces of Flyover Country.

Yet the opportunity continues and may even be intensifying. Meta, Google, Amazon, Twitter and other Big Tech companies on the West Coast are laying off tens of thousands of workers as growth in their sector has fallen off and stock prices have plummeted, and many pure digital-tech startups are faltering as well.

Read the rest of this piece at 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.

Photo: greater Chicago area, courtesy Flyover Coalition.