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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

The brain, it's plain, stays mainly in the drain

Fort Wayne doesn't have a full-fledged blogosphere yet, but one is developing. An interesting conversation has been taking place on a couple of local blogs, for example, about this area's "brain drain." Gloria Diaz, a guest blogger at Fort Wayne Media Notes, kicked it off with a post discussing the departure of college graduates because, among other reasons, of a lack of good jobs. That prompted a response from FWMN host Nathan Gotsch to the effect that "sending our kids out into the world isn't such a bad thing." Then came Tracy Warner, Journal Gazette editorial page editor, who said that, though brain drain is a serious issue, he agrees with Nathan, and "we should encourage our kids to explore, expand their horizons . . ." Along the way, there were a couple of interesting comments on Nathan's post from blog visitors, one from a Fort Wayne newcomer and the other from someone who left and then came back, showing that there are different perspectives both on Fort Wayne's assets and deficits.

My two cents worth: There really isn't much disagreement here. There's no conflict in telling our loved ones to go wherever their dreams take them and at the same time trying to make Fort Wayne the kind of place they might want to choose. We'll keep some, lose some and lure some back.

I speak from the perspective of someone who has left Fort Wayne and come back, twice. And I have a brother and sister who have moved on. My brother has built himself a house in Hill Country, Texas, and seems to have found where he's supposed to be. My sister, on the other hand, lives in Indianapolis and talks frequently about how much she misses Fort Wayne.

I was gone the last time for 10 years because that's where my work took me, and I came back the last time for the same reason; Gloria certainly has that part right. But I've talked to other people who've left and come back, and there are always other reasons besides employment. There's a connectedness you feel in the place where you grew up (we moved here when I was 12) that you don't feel anywhere else -- to people, places, shared history. It's important to tell that to the kids, too; again, we'll keep some and lose some.

For what it's worth, whenever I've felt out of place, including here a couple of times, it's either because I didn't know anybody or wasn't on the same wavelength as the people I did know. When people say, "There's nothing to do here," what I usually think they mean is that there's nobody here they want to do it with.

Posted in: Blogroll, Our town


Penny Stroman
Mon, 07/11/2005 - 4:10pm

I agree, I love Fort Wayne to and all it has to offer. Everything except a dominate existance in the IT market... I have enjoyed living and working in this area for many years but Information Technology has gone to other cities, states, countries and is close to non-existent in the Fort Wayne area compared to when I started in the business 20 years ago. I was one of the people that wanted to work for Lincoln Life Insurance company for life. Then came the a new president at LNL along with outsourcing to IBM who then outsourced to India. Gone is my job, a connection with co-workers whom I worked with for so many years, financial security and all benefits that I have taken for granted most of my life like health and dental insurance. I would love to stay in Fort Wayne, just not sure how it is possible..

Mike Sylvester
Mon, 07/11/2005 - 9:30pm

There is definately a "brain drain" in Fort Wayne. It is a problem that we must address if we are to improve Fort Wayne.

I grew up in Fort Wayne. I joined the Navy and spent six years stationed on a nuclear submarine. I was stationed in Pearl Harbor, HI. I met my wife in Hawaii, she is from Indianapolis. My wife has a degree in International Business and left Indiana to find a job ("Brain Drain").

When I was discharged from the USN we lived in both Omaha and Kansas City for a total of about five years. We moved back to Fort Wayne five years ago to raise our family.

The "brain drain" is occuring for one reason and one reason only. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. And did I mention, jobs!

Until Fort Wayne can generate more high paying jobs our college graduates will leave this area. They do not have a choice. Some will return and some will not.

Our local government needs to "wake up" and address this problem. The solutions will not be simple, but this problem can be solved. The first place I would start is with the ancient and innefective tax abatement system we have in place. About 98% of the total money given in tax abatements is given to large companies.

Did you know that when a tax abatement is given to a company that all of the other businesses AND property tax payers in the taxing district now have to pay more in taxes? How is that fair? This is a principle known as Economic Re-arrangement. It is NOT economic development.

Small Businesses create 7 of 10 new jobs. Why don't they get 70% of the tax abatements instead of 2%? The reason is local politics. Large business owners have more money, they can afford to hire lawyers and CPA's to file the paperwork to ensure they get tax abatements. Large business owners also contribute a large amount of money to the re-election campaigns of local politicians. We need to lower the taxes on all businesses small and large, we need to lower property taxes, and we need to change the tax abatement system. Tax abatements just help one business at the expense of all other businesses. Tax abatements are an unfair advantage given to large companies. This system needs to be changed.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to learn more about the tax abatement system or any local Libertarian issues!

Mike Sylvester
Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Allen County

Karen Goldner
Tue, 07/12/2005 - 6:05am

Just a point of clarification - tax abatement is given to companies for NEW INVESTMENT, and it allows them to phase in the taxes due on that new investment over a period of several years (usually 3-10). Many small companies receive tax abatement. However, large companies tend to make larger capital investments because they are, well, larger, so the value of their abatement is higher - but then again, the amount of taxes they pay is higher, too. The company I work for, a small software company, received a tax abatement and it is saving us some money which is great. But we wouldn't expect to save as much as GM, etc., because the amount of our capital investment is smaller than the amount of their investment. Certainly there are things that can be improved about our tax abatement system (I believe everything can be improved), but before someone gets mad about tax abatement, it's good to understand exactly what it is and what it is not.

Mike Sylvester
Tue, 07/12/2005 - 12:24pm

What you say is certainly true. I had the local government send me all information about all tax abatements granted in 2004. 98% go to large business and 2% go to small business. That is wrong.

I feel the answer is to lower the tax rates for everyone! I believe in capitalism and a free market economy. Tax Abatements are unfair and help large businesses almost exculsively. We need to change that.