Open letter to Chico City Council

Let’s cherry-pick the best and the brightest from the flood of Syrian refugees

The Author Is Executive Producer Of Chico Currents (

I write today to alert the council to an emerging opportunity with enormous upside potential. Recent events in the Middle East have caused some of Syria’s most capable, effective and valuable human capital to become available at a substantial discount to the market.

These are Syria’s best and brightest: educators, executives, professionals. These are the kind of people our best companies are looking for. These are people with something to lose, something to gain, and the willingness to take extraordinary risks to achieve it. They share the attributes of the pioneers who founded this nation, opened up the West, and settled this valley. They are of our tribe.

Many communities are responding to the refugee crisis with compassion, out of a sense of obligation. I propose we respond with enlightened self-interest, in pursuit of strategic competitive advantage. Opportunity is like the wind. The fairest breeze can begin as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing, halfway around the world. This is top-shelf, investment-grade human capital. At these prices, how can we pass it up?

Let’s invite them. Let’s cherry-pick their LinkedIn profiles for the specific skills and experience our best performing companies are having the hardest time attracting. Let’s fill the gaps in our skilled and managerial workforces. And let’s tell the world why we’re doing it. In addition to raising our profile as intrepidly competitive, we might also help reframe the global deliberation. There are few better attributes to associate with our reputation than prescient insight and principled leadership.

Someone will do this. While strategic benefits will accrue to any community pursuing this strategy, brand awareness benefits will adhere solely to the first mover. The shortest distance between two points is a resolution extending an invitation to the Syrian refugee professional community to consider Chico first. No resources need be programmed. The nonprofit economic development community will do the heavy lifting. There is top-grade talent to be had for the asking.

Let’s ask.