A new University of Minnesota Extension report has some good news for rural Minnesota in the area of rural migration. While the urbanization of the state continues, and the "brain drain" of young people aged 18-25 heading to the Cities is still prevalent, many rural counties are seeing a "brain gain" of people aged 30 to 49.
Using statistics from the 2010 Census, Ben Winchester, a research fellow with the U of M Extension Center for Community Vitality, has identified the trend of people in their prime family-raising and career years making the choice to move to the rural counties. It continued between 2000 and 2010, though at a slower pace.
This good news for rural counties in general needs to be tempered somewhat. Most of the migration is toward regional centers, or "rural urban" centers, like Willmar, Marshall and Mankato. Larger communities, especially those connected with colleges and state universities, tend to attract more in the 30-49 age group, while nearby counties languish.
The challenge for rural communities continues to be to have jobs and career opportunities to attract and keep people who are looking for a slower pace of life, a smaller, closer knit community, and a closer connection with nature.
This new study, howeve, holds out hope for those communities that can meet the challenge.