One of the reasons some neighborhoods never seem to climb out of an underperforming economic rut is that they have a hard time retaining the talent they produce.  It’s common to disregard these communities on the basis of their high poverty rates, low educational attainment, poor health stats, property values and home ownership rates.  This perception is often shared by people both inside and outside these communities.

Many well-meaning programs and projects aimed at educating those with potential follow a resource-extraction paradigm, a.k.a. “brain drain.”  It’s the Cinderella Story idea of making it out of the bad neighborhood.  For the individual, it can be great.

But in such a paradigm the investment in individuals does not result in a statistically significant benefit to the community.  Hard-working, talented young adults are taught from an early age to measure their success by how far they get away from their home communities. They are expected, even encouraged to leave before the community can benefit from their income-generating potential.

Many companies realize that keeping talent is cost-effective.  Apart from salary, many of today’s successful companies use creative and compelling lifestyle-supporting benefits that keep people engaged.  When employers invest in new trainings, well-designed workspaces, flexible hours, and or free cafeteria food for employees, the employers benefit because they create an overall environment that people find appealing.  This incentivizes employees to want to stay, and builds mission buy-in, which is something money can’t always buy.

The same forces can be put to work on a community level.

If you are a subscriber click here to login and read the complete article.  For more information about the JSFB click here  or contact us to learn more about Cornerstone’s research and service offering.