Economic entity seeks ‘brain gain’

FAIRMONT – Fairmont Economic Development Authority approved funds Wednesday for a “Brain Gain” program, meant to spark a migration of 30- to 49-year-olds back to the area.

“It’s just another tool to show our local companies that we’re working on a sustainable work force,” City Administrator Mike Humpal told the FEDA members.

Many communities experience a “brain drain,” which happens when 18- to 25-year-olds move away from their home towns after high school. However, University of Minnesota Extension Service research indicates this drain can be – and is being – offset by an influx of people in the 30-49 age range returning to the rural areas to raise their families in less hectic surroundings.

With this target group in mind, FEDA authorized spending $6,250 to begin implementing the campaign, confident the Martin County Economic Development Authority will match the funds.

“This is just the setup and the strategy, not the execution,” Humpal said.

He cautioned the board that additional requests for funding are possible once the campaign begins.

Part of the plan includes Fairmont native John Kasper and his marketing consulting firm Tattoo to coordinate the program. Humpal noted that Kasper himself is considering returning to Fairmont.

The firm will develop a theme/brand and the best media avenues for the message, including social media sites, to contact area alumni.

Employment opportunities would be a necessity for anyone moving to the area, but Humpal is confident about jobs.

“There’s jobs out there. It’s just matching the skill set to those jobs,” he said.

FEDA members discussed a timetable to hold a presentation for business people to introduce the Brain Gain program. Members shared a consensus that this introduction should be held this summer, with the initial outreach to alumni before the holiday season.

In other business, FEDA welcomed two new members, Rich Johnson and Bill Crawford, who replaced outgoing members Gene Tonne and Brian Roggow.