Academic journal article Journal of Regional Analysis & Policy

Destination Choices of Michigan Micropolitan Outmigrants: Key Determinants and Implications for Community Marketing

Academic journal article Journal of Regional Analysis & Policy

Destination Choices of Michigan Micropolitan Outmigrants: Key Determinants and Implications for Community Marketing

Article excerpt

Abstract. As its economy struggled during the last decade, Michigan became the only state to lose population between the 2000 and 2010 Censuses. Michigan's problems were well known and communities in other states sought to attract residents from Michigan. This paper describes the efforts of one Nebraska community, Columbus, to recruit residents from a specific Michigan micropolitan area. We also develop a model of destination choice by outmigrants from Michigan micropolitan areas. We find that counties that offer amenity and real wage ad-vantages have the greatest potential to attract Michigan outmigrants, that differences in un-employment rates do not influence destination choice, and that the potential for attracting workers drops with distance.

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

1. Introduction

After a decade of economic stagnation, the state of Michigan faces growing difficulty in maintaining its population and workforce. This is evident in the statewide trends. Michigan was the only state in the nation to lose population between the 2000 and 2010 Censuses. While northern states like Michigan face long-term pressure from amenities and job opportu-nities in Sunbelt regions, periods of economic stag-nation may create a growing flow of outmigration to states of all kinds where economic opportunities are stronger. Michigan residents who might normally resist the allure of sunshine in the South and West may be looking for employment opportunities wherever these are found. This is as true for resi-dents of non-metropolitan areas as it is for residents of metropolitan areas. Non-metropolitan communi-ties in northern states in fact face a second secular trend of outmigration to metropolitan areas. And again, in times of economic distress these long-run secular trends may be supplemented by additional out-migrants searching broadly for economic opportunity. These additional migrants who might normally prefer non-metropolitan amenities and lifestyle also may seek greater economic opportunity in similar surroundings.

The implication is that over the last decade a sig-nificant group of non-metropolitan Michigan resi-dents may have been searching for opportunities in non-metropolitan areas over a large geographic space, in particular searching for non-metropolitan areas which provide greater economic opportunity and also remind them of home. Business interests and organizations, in fact, have been counting on it. This is because, while Michigan has undergone more than a decade of weak economic growth, other non-metropolitan areas have grown robustly and even faced labor shortages, at least before the onset of the severe recession of 2008 and 2009. Non-metropolitan regions in states such as Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota experienced solid manufac-turing growth between the two recessions of the last decade. Yet, these non-metropolitan areas contin-ued to face the secular trend of rural to urban migra-tion discussed above, and their states faced secular trends of migration from north to south and west. The new wave of out-migrants from Michigan pro-vided a potential opportunity for these regions. For example, one such region, in Columbus, Nebraska, organized visits to the Traverse City, Michigan, and surrounding areas in 2007 and 2008 to recruit work-ers for the numerous manufacturing plants and large health care facilities found in the Columbus region. Economic development officials in Colum-bus knew that the Traverse City region faced high unemployment rates, but they further reasoned that these micropolitan residents would consider living in the Columbus, Nebraska, area.

This paper examines the Columbus, Nebraska -Traverse City, Michigan, case as an example of such community marketing efforts, that is, direct efforts to market and attract residents to an area. We spe-cifically examine the issue of where community marketers should choose to recruit population. First, we examine the "match" between the Colum-bus Micropolitan Area and the Traverse City Micropolitan Area according to a group of economic and amenity characteristics. …

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