This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

November 16, 2005

Reversing the Brain Drain

Many communities have experienced the exodus of their young graduates. This mass departure hurts economic development as well as the state and federal support that these areas receive.

Some communities are taking steps to reverse the situation---to attract graduates back to the local or regional economies. One of the areas implementing a plan is the Economy 2020 Action Team in North Central Illinois. Built to benefit the LaSalle, Bureau, Putnam, and Lee County region, the Brain Drain Database is a compilation of the local graduating high school seniors and graduating students from Sauk Valley and Illinois Valley Community Colleges who are interested in following the progress of the area “with an eye towards moving back.”

The program is the result of a Community Audit conducted in 2004 and 2005. This audit examined the challenges of making the region competitive for what are referred to as “New Economy Jobs.” The initiative began by soliciting interest from the graduating students. The survey garnered information about where the people planned to go, what they expected to be doing, what they liked and appreciated about their hometowns as well as what they considered the region’s biggest drawbacks.

Armed with this information, local communities can better attract and hold their young people. For years now, the State of Iowa has conducted an effective effort to reverse this devastating trend. Iowa’s Governor Tom Vilsack regularly travels to Chicago and Los Angeles to host events for dislocated Iowans. In fact, earlier this year, Iowa announced a $6 Million advertising campaign to promote their quality of life.

But this effort to stem the Brain Drain has been launched by countries as well. Recognizing that their best and brightest had chosen to stay in the United States after earning graduate degrees, India and other countries have made concentrated efforts to woo back their graduates with the promise of higher living standards with the comfort and security of their home countries, not to mention the value of being able to stay close to family. We expect this trend of addressing the Brain Drain to continue both domestically and globally.

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