Music to Our Ears

The concept of Brain Drain has been much discussed over the decades, with most of the focus aimed at the factors that drive young people away.

A new study focuses on the magnetic forces that attract the best thinkers to new places. And those forces, it turns out, are evolving. As a result, new “brain hubs” (i.e.: Raleigh, Austin and…dare we say it…Charleston) are beginning to out-perform old “brain hubs” (like Boston,  Washington and San Jose) in attracting talent.

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, a new generation of cities are doing an ever-better job of attracting the entrepreneurial and the educated to their business incubators and cafes. In the meantime, they are fueling their own municipal futures. They’re doing it by being exciting, approachable, affordable and supportive.

And here in Charleston, we are attracting more brains than most. Indeed, according to another Census data review reported in the Wall Street Journal and analyzed by Brookings Institution, Charleston is the nation’s #1 Brain Gainer.  Translation: between 2000 and 2010, the region’s  Bachelors degree-wielding populace grew by 7 percentage points to 32%.

So how did we attract these best and brightest? See the “exciting, approachable and supportive” note above. Then consider the many ways leaders throughout the region have committed to making this a mecca of innovation.

Still unsure? Well consider this great story that emerged around the same time the WSJ was reporting their trends:  A team of College of Charleston scientists has programmed laptops to “listen” to music played live, “think” about it momentarily, and play back something similar in style, but audibly distinct.  The Monterey Mirror program was developed here by professor Bill Manaris, and was demonstrated by pianists Amy Tan and Chee-Hang See. It does the extraordinary task of combining two of our regional passions: high-tech business and a love of the arts.

Manaris’ laptop music program is an off-shoot of the college’s new Technology and the Arts major, which launched earlier this year and already has 31 students.

Sounds like a truly magnetic idea.

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