Many communities are suffering from ‘brain drain’ as educated, motivated young people move away to cities or head south of the border in search of better financial prospects. This phenomenon is tied to growing student loan debt for college graduates. The loss of a community’s most promising citizens can cause social and economic problems. We have tips—and promotional giveaways—to show graduates that your community is a place of opportunity.
Consider student loan forgiveness
The average Canadian university student graduates with about $26,000 of debt, so paying off student loans has become a major factor when looking for employment. To draw in graduates, some communities are offering to pay off a portion of their student loans. If your community has a similar program, be sure to promote it among current students and recent graduates. Send a promotional giveaway like a Post Card to young people you hope will stay in—or join—the community.
Encourage entrepreneurship with innovation hubs
Another approach to preventing brain drain is to start an innovation hub—similar to Silicon Valley or Waterloo Region—in your community. Innovation hubs usually:
- Are anchored by a large institution like a university or business
- Offer entrepreneurs co-working spaces or offices
- Feature access to affordable housing
If you want to nurture a hub like this in your community, you’ll need to work with your anchor institution to determine what kind of hub to promote. Create a survey and present it to the businesses you’d want to partner with to learn what kind of startups would thrive. Thank them for their time with a Light-Up Memo and Photo Board or a sling bag.
Share the features of your community
Emphasizing what makes your community special can also be a strong draw to young professionals. One study revealed that communities were able to maintain or grow their population by:
- Having good schools
- Featuring outdoor recreation, including parks and trails
- Showing a strong sense of community
- Offering easy proximity to highways, entertainment and employment
If your community has these things, make graduates aware of them. Send out promotional giveaways that emphasize what makes you special, like a notebook and pen that includes information about community amenities or a sportpack that features one of your parks or nature trails.
Refilling your community
Preventing brain drain doesn’t just build the businesses in your community—it makes your whole community better. By helping graduates and professionals see what you have to offer, you can keep your community growing.