Rochester ranks high in brain power


In a knowledge-based economy, where are the brain banks? Washington-Arlington-Alexandria ranks as the biggest brain bank among large US metros, with 23 percent of residents holding graduate and professional degrees, according to a recent study.

Rochester rounds out the top 10 of brain-powered metros with 14 percent. And if small cities are included in the ranking, Ithaca would take the number-one spot with nearly 30 percent of its residents in the highly educated class. The study was put together by the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto, which has looked extensively at where “brain clusters” exist, and what this means economically for those regions.

“Brainpower is the fuel that fires today’s tech-driven knowledge economy,” according to the study. And some metro areas have developed reservoirs of research and development talent around specific industries. For instance, San Jose has the most engineering talent and New York City is home to finance.

Not surprisingly, leaders in some cities are doing whatever they can to attract these individuals because of the boost they give to the local economy.

But brain power alone is not an economic panacea. Rochester, for example, has a highly educated workforce, but the area doesn’t rank high in any of the specific degree areas where some industries are typically concentrated, such as Raleigh’s Research Triangle Park.

And other studies from the Institute show that some communities such as Cleveland have become intellectually segregated, which creates economic challenges instead of solving them.