I’ve written about the idea of Brain Gain before – a term if not coined, certainly made meaningful by Ben Winchester at the University of Minnesota Extension. In short it’s the recognition that while rural areas may lose their 18-24 year olds as they expand their worlds at college, travel, armed forces whatever – rural areas are seeing a bounce back or brain gain from 30-50 year olds who are interested in returning to rural areas as they settle into careers and families.
The Grand Forks Herald recently posted an article on how the push to promote Brain Gain may get some official backing from the Legislature…
The Minnesota Rural Counties Caucus, which advocates for Greater Minnesota counties, was so impressed with a presentation Winchester gave in December that the caucus put a bill together that’s gathering steam at the Capitol.
The bill’s chief author in the Minnesota House is Rep. Deb Kiel, R-Crookston.
“I’ve presented a dozen times in each of your districts,” Winchester told a recent House panel speaking in support of the Greater Minnesota Brain Gain Bill.
“I regularly get asked, ‘What can we do now?’, and I really didn’t have a good answer. That has changed with the introduction of the Brain Gain bill, which is a first step in answering that question.”
Here are some of the details…
The Greater Minnesota Brain Gain bill is a one-year pilot project that identifies, coordinates and supports these energetic, largely volunteer and universally underfunded regional efforts. The idea is to provide structure and funding for a year and have grant recipients report back to the Legislature about the differences a sustained, asset-based marketing plan made to the area.
Long a lone voice for changing the narrative of decline in Greater Minnesota, Winchester now seems to be picking up converts. Here’s hoping they’ll soon join forces to become a chorus for a new and positive reality.
Stratton, a Douglas County (Minn.) commissioner, is chairman of the Minnesota Rural Counties Caucus.