Reversing Rust Belt brain drain: Tracy on Cleveland public radio's ideastream

When is moving back to your hometown newsworthy? When that town is in the Rust Belt, which has not only lost industrial jobs but educated professionals like myself who sought opportunity elsewhere.

I'm a "boomerang" -- someone who moves away and then comes back, which in my case was after nearly 17 years in Geneva, Switzerland, New York City and Washington, DC. Boomerangs are key to depressed areas regaining their economic and cultural strength. We know our home cities well but bring back new ideas, skills and experience.

Cleveland's exciting mix of community-building initiatives drew me back. The Gordon Square Arts District, where I'm volunteering my time, has garnered national media attention for using the arts to apply "economic shock paddles" to a struggling area. Others include Ingenuity Fest's unique blend of the arts and a gritty but beautiful location, a myriad of sustainable urban agriculture projects like Community Greenhouse Partners, and a community development corporation model that is studied across the nation.

Now Clevelanders are working to draw more people like me back to affordable living costs, a growing healthcare sector, one of the nation's best metropolitan park systems, stellar arts institutions like the world famous Cleveland Orchestra, some of the best libraries in the US, and rich mix of ethnic cultures -- complete with the restaurants and markets that go with them.

I participated in the recent Global Cleveland Summit, which kicked off an initiative to draw "boomerangs" and international newcomers to Cleveland to revitalize our city and take it in new directions. I talked with a public radio reporter about why I'm back: Northeast Ohio Tries to Bring Back the Rust Belt Refugees / ideastream - Northeast Ohio Public Radio, Television and Multiple Media

NOTE: If you've boomeranged back to Cleveland, drop me a line. I'm planning a gathering to celebrate our return and to share our experiences.