Stopping the brain drain: Rural areas struggle to keep young professionals

Jackson County Brain Drain article image

BELLEVUE, Iowa — Claira Sieverding is 25 years old and engaged, with a good job and a master’s degree.

She was born and raised in Bellevue, population: 2,177. Other than living in Dubuque while she attended Loras College, she always has called Bellevue home — and plans to continue doing so.

“In Bellevue, you can have an active voice and be involved in the decision-making,” she said. “I love the fact that I’m on the (Jackson County Economic Alliance) board, that I can do Bellevue Heart & Soul stuff and work with the chamber. You make a connection between all three and see similar faces that are on the same page to get things done.”

Sieverding is more the exception than the rule when it comes to young professionals born and educated in Iowa.

Since the early 1980s, Iowa and rural areas in general have suffered a “brain drain” of young, educated people flocking to larger population centers.