An Iowa State University dean says while the state’s colleges and universities are sending graduates out of state, there are some ways to reverse the brain drain. Paul Lasley, chairman of the sociology and anthropology departments at I.S.U., says the crucial time frame seems to be after graduates have spent three, four or five years in the “big city.”
“It seems like when they start having children or start thinking about starting a family, of putting down roots…things like community, a safe place to live, good schools become much more important,” Lasley says.
Lasley suggests many young adults who’re ready to leave big metros are searching for a better place to start a business. “I’m not sure that people are looking so much for jobs as they’re looking for opportunities,” Lasley says. Home ownership a very big factor, too, as Iowa’s standard of living is much lower than it is in cities like Chicago and Minneapolis.
“In the economic crisis of the 1980s, Iowa lost about 300,000 people…Many of them were well educated, young, highly mobile. If we would have been able to retain them, they now would be in the prime years of earning, they would be the leaders in our communities,” Lasley says. “…Unfortunately, we let them leave and we probably weren’t active enough or aggressive enough in trying to get them back so now I think we really have to redouble to fill that void that occurred.”
Legislators and the governor appointed a “Generation Iowa Commission” to come up with ideas for state action that could help reverse the brain drain. Lasley made his comments during a recent appearance on “The Iowa Journal” on Iowa Public Television.