Arron Brown recently wrote a thoughtful piece on Brain Gain for the Blandin Foundation Outposts. The brain gain refers to the reserve migration many communities are seeing these days in rural Minnesota. Young people leave their hometowns for education and first jobs – but they are returning once they have families. They don’t move to town for a job; they move to town for the lifestyle.
We’ve been hearing about Brain Gain for a couple of years now – in fact, Lac qui Parle County factoring highly in an article on brain gain on Minnesota Public Radio. Arron Brown does a nice job with her perspective and provides added good new to this happy trend – brain gainers are looking for places with technology. That’s puts LqP County in a good place with our fiber connectivity. …
“We are seeing for the first time in the history of the world that ‘location, location, location’ is becoming less and less important,” said Bell from his office in New York. “It’s never unimportant, but the ability to transact almost anything instantaneously online has all kinds of disruptive impacts on the world, but offers rural areas a hope they’ve never seen before. It will take people awhile to realize how powerful this opportunity is. It’s not like a highway that someone builds to your town, but something you have to build yourself.”
For communities that have depended on natural resources, whether that’s farming, logging or mining, it can be difficult to realize that potential, Bell said.
“You are constructing a new economy on top of the old one,” said Bell. “You don’t want to get rid of the old one, but how do you produce another level? You have to start from square one. You have to have infrastructure. You have to have people who know how to use that infrastructure to create knowledge and value.”
Bell and his co-authors find that high-speed internet connectivity is a cornerstone in the attraction of returning professionals, something Winchester echoes after his research for U of M Extension Service.
“People almost expect to have [broadband internet],” said Winchester. “They’re surprised not to have it. It’s not something people search and hunt for; it’s something they expect to be there.”
Winchester said rural areas where high speed internet is available to the home see significant telecommuting opportunities from all over the country.