University of Minnesota President Kaler: Rural communities can break the cycle of ‘brain drain’
August 1, 2017 by Blandin Foundation
University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler penned an uplifting piece that ran in The Hill yesterday. It leaned on data from a recent Pew Charitable Trust report and U of M Extension research on brain gain to counteract the narrative that all rural places are dying. Across rural Minnesota, we’ve seen brain gain in action, and know that there is much opportunity for small towns to break the cycle of ‘brain drain,’ as Kaler writes.
The reality is that rural America can continue to prosper and grow, but only by using all of the tools and techniques available to rural communities. Higher education, particularly land-grant institutions, must be part of the equation. But we must evolve together to meet communities’ needs. In Minnesota, it means we make the most of our five campuses across the state. But we also must extend our reach even further.
Kaler says there’s no silver bullet for shrinking communities.
There is not a one-size-fits-all solution. But in communities across the country and in Minnesota we are working on rural issues in ways that recognize the basic challenges of geography. That strategy aligns the strengths of communities and a leading research institution. That extends the competitive advantages of metro and regional centers in the right ways to blend with the small town atmosphere that attracts growth, population, business and talent.
While there’s not a single solution for rural vitality, he says, a symbiotic relationship between rural and urban communities is important for all people.
When we invest in finding ways to grow rural communities we, in turn, grow our metropolitan areas. They may be separated by distance, but in our interconnected world and through the power of institutions, like the University of Minnesota, our shared success drives opportunities for all citizens.
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