Rural Matters


From SHEILAH ROGERS
Redwood Valley

From the Rural Entrepreneurship Newsletter: The Flipside of Brain Drain

In community conversations held by the US Department of Agriculture four years ago, the top-ranked issue across the nation was the exodus of youth, and thus the erosion of people and talent, from rural communities.  Often referred to as “brain drain” in the major media, young people in McCook, Nebraska have given this expression a new, healthier twist.

“When we talk about brain drain, we are referring to young people in focus groups downloading as many ideas as possible about how to improve the community, especially in relationship to youth interests,” explains Dan McCarville, one of the progenitors of the McCook Youth League.

Brain drain, McCook-style, may be the next best tool for reversing outmigration. In our new story, The Flipside of Brain Drain, written by Karen Dabson, you can learn more about how youth in McCook, through their own efforts, are generating activities for young people, gaining the interest and support of the town establishment, and making plans to stay or return as adults. Go here

Baby Boom Migration and Rural America

The Economic Research Service (ERS) of USDA recently released a very important new study on migration and its potential impacts on rural America.  Our team at the RUPRI Center for Rural Entrepreneurship has spent quite a bit of time digesting this research and its implications for other related migration research.  If you are interested in this topic, we strongly recommend that you take a look at this work by John Cromartie (ERS) and Peter Nelson (Middlebury College), http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/ERR79/ERR79.pdf.

The focus of this research is on America’s Baby Boom Generation (typically Americans born between 1946 and 1964) and where they are going as they move from “work” to “retirement.”  Bottom line, this research is suggesting that the numbers of Boomers moving to non-adjacent rural counties will rise from 277,000 in the 90s to 362,000 in this decade and to 383,000 in the 2010-2020 decade.  The implications of this trend are huge for rural America.

Those likely to be moving to rural communities will tend to be healthier, better educated, better networked to the new economy and wealthier.  They will likely bring many assets.  While the research observes that most will be moving to “high amenity” communities where public lands, mountains, water and other assets abound, many will also be moving to former home regions and hometowns.

Other research by the University of Nebraska and Iowa State University shows a strong preference for moving to places where there are “familiar” relationships.  Our theory is that communities that recognize and work this opportunity can benefit from this migration trend. If you’d like to know more about how the Center views this migration trend as an opportunity for rural communities, contact Don Macke (don@e2mail.org).
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