Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ironic Brain Drain

Someone in Rochester, Minnesota is worried about young talent leaving the area:

Yes, the University of Minnesota-Rochester offers great potential for high-school graduates. Health care is a growing field, just not in Rochester.

Recently a young family man heard about Dubuque, Iowa, which is being held up by many as a model of economic growth. To paraphrase this young man: “What am I doing here? Dubuque is only an hour and a half away.”

Another young man is working on a four-year business degree but he has no intentions of finishing it while still in Rochester. To again paraphrase, “There is nothing here for me.”

Retaining college graduates have become a critical issue to moving the entire Midwest forward. Kansas, North Dakota and Nebraska have all launched initiatives to try to entice recent graduates to stay. There's even competition within the region, with South Dakota angling for workers from Minnesota, and Iowa running billboard ads to try to lure young professionals out of Chicago. ...

... Currently, only a third of University of Iowa alumni still live in the state. People who do return tend to come back in their 30s when they want to raise a family. But Carlson says this leaves a huge gap in Iowa's workforce. And he says if the state is going to be economically competitive, Des Moines, Dubuque, Sioux City, need to focus more on the needs of young 20-something professionals.

In January of 2009, I noticed something cooking in Dubuque. Rochester is feeling the heat.

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