The Minneapolis Star Tribune featured Ben Winchster and the Brain Gain theory yesterday (he presented at the MIRC conference a couple of weeks ago) – including stories from communities that are working to draw the 30-49 year olds who are moving to rural areas. And what is one of the main draws? Broadband access.
One story they feature is of Andrew Lewis, who moved to Marietta Minnesota about 7 years ago. His wife (Andrea) is from the region. They were living in Coon Rapids – but when there was his employer offered an option to work remotely – they took it. One stipulation however, was that he be able to work via broadband. As telework options increase, that is becoming a greater requirement for recruiting folks who are happily employed and simply looking for a different quality of life than they are living in the metro areas…
As soon as his big-city banking employer allowed him to work remotely, Andrew Lewis fled his traffic-jammed, necktie world to seek serenity. Now, when he turns away from the three computer screens on his desk, he can wander out the door of his old farmhouse and gaze at the rippling green carpet of crops that stretches beyond his 10-mile view. Corn, soybeans and sky.
Lewis is part of a small but steady contingent of educated transplants, often in their 30s and 40s, who are choosing to settle in the countryside. Seeking simpler lives, they are tipping the scales back a bit from the often-cited “brain drain” of rural high school graduates who leave for work or college in bigger cities.
The local economic developers are working to reach this demographic…
Local government and civic leaders have worked hard to try to attract and keep newcomers like the Lewises.
Trench diggers cleave the countryside, laying 647 miles of fiber-optic cable as part of a $9.7 million project to bring free high-speed Internet infrastructure to all houses and businesses in the county.
The town of Dawson offers commercial real estate to job-creating business owners for as little as $1.
In Madison, Minn., last week, hundreds gathered under the marquee of the Grand Theatre to raise some of the nearly $100,000 needed to buy digital movie equipment so the venue can stay open when film becomes obsolete.