Stakeholders in rural communities have been talking about rural brain drain and how to reverse it for years.

The percentage of residents living in rural areas of the U.S. continues to shrink. More and more entrepreneurs, innovators – and young people – leave these less-populated regions and don’t return. This is called rural brain drain.

Many communities in our region, the Lakes of Northwest Iowa, are experiencing rural brain drain. Some are faring better than others, but every community here wants to continue to thrive.

Population growth is the key to making that happen.

But before anyone will consider moving somewhere new, they need to be shown opportunity exists.

Remote jobs, tech hubs are popular solution to reversing rural brain drain

In some cases, with the right infrastructure in place, the opportunities workers find in urban areas can also exist in rural areas thanks to remote working.

The Rural Innovation Initiative is seizing on this. That organization is looking to build outposts for remote workers in rural downtowns throughout the country.

In Iowa, Pillar Technology, a tech consulting company with office locations in Des Moines; Columbus, Ohio; and Ann Arbor, Michigan; is taking an innovative approach by opening its first ever rural location in Jefferson, Iowa.

Pillar calls each of its offices a Forge. The company says its Forges focus on collaboration, creativity and tech to “help people grow, technology bloom and communities flourish.”

Many rural communities would welcome a business like Pillar with open arms.

Attracting remote workers and building tech hubs in rural communities both sound like great ways to try and solve rural brain drain. They create reasons for people to move back to an area, bringing with them their valuable talent and ideas.

The Get A Lakes Life solution for rural brain drain

However, while creating hubs of clustered tech employees is a reasonable solution, the Get A Lakes Life team believes there are other opportunities in rural America that shouldn’t be overlooked.

There are existing employers in many rural regions, including ours, who want to grow but need people to fill job openings. These businesses are in a variety of key industries, including manufacturing, agriculture, healthcare and renewable energy – just to name a few.

There are also area businesses for sale and plenty of potential for startup ideas to succeed.

Add our beautiful natural resources, quality schools and safe communities and our region has its own road map for reversing rural brain drain.

That’s why the Get A Lakes Life team is building a platform that will show people these opportunities waiting to be found in the Lakes of Northwest Iowa.

Using this platform, community champions will connect to people they know (we call them movers) who they want to move to our area.

Our champions will show movers the job openings, housing options, entrepreneurial opportunities and recreation amenities that make this corner of Iowa such a great place to live.

We already have more than 100 champions who are waiting for the platform to launch so that they can begin their own recruitment efforts.

Learn more about Get A Lakes Life

If you are already living in the Lakes of Northwest Iowa, we invite you to join us in growing our region by becoming a community champion.

If you’d like more information about moving here, then we would love to help you with that, too. Make sure to take a look at our Lakes Life stories to get a quick look at what opportunities have been found – and created – by people who have relocated here.


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