ord sunshine pumpers

life in rural nebraska

The Brain Drain

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Newsweek has great coverage of a new book out, Hollowing Out the Middle, which takes an in-depth look at the implications of brain drain and how rural communities can address the challenge of losing their best and brightest.

Many of you know me by now – I’m not a native of the area, my wife and I have been here a year now and we love it.  LOVE IT.  We also believe this community is and will continue to be a leader in rural opportunities because of one simple phenomenon:  positive change.  We’ve written about the impact of positive change here, here and here.  The infectious attitude is prevalent wherever you look.  We are lucky to be in a community that continues to invest in itself:  civic, community and economic.  This impact has created a community that is primed to tackle brain drain head-on.

The lessons to be learned from Hollowing?  There are many, and in Valley County we’ve nailed them all and in many respects are ahead of the curve with respect  job creation, educational engagement and long-term investment.

I’ll leave you with this from the article.  As a community, we’ve been able to deliver on several mechanisms that provide a pathway to deal with the hallowing effect.  Have a look at how far ahead we really are:

But there are people maybe with young families or who tried urban living and wanted to opt out and try something else, who could be lured to the region—maybe not every 22-year-old, but maybe a 32-year-old who would think, “This is great. I can raise my kids, I can buy a gigantic house. And as long as I have the digital infrastructure, I can telecommute. I can have a very good quality of life.” I think the lifestyle rural communities have to offer is really more compatible for young families. There are also ways to lure back professionals through more aggressive tuition breaks for medical students [in exchange for a commitment to return to the community after graduation], which I think is going to become more appealing as students take on more and more debt. And finally, the other thing we want to talk about is pushing the development of our community-college students, creating that infrastructure to match up economic demands for the regional economy with the young people who are most likely to stay.


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  1. […] Pollard, the executive director of Valley County Economic Development in Ord, wrote a post on his Ord Sunshine Pumpers blog last week about a fascinating Newsweek interview with Patrick J. Carr and Maria J. Kefalas, […]

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