We spent the week of March 25 visiting our daughter, son-in-law and our first grandbaby in Las Vegas followed by a side trip to Sedona, Ariz. for some hiking of the red rocks and much needed relaxation. As most that have grown children who live away, we are proud of their efforts to succeed on their own, but miss having them close at hand. Many young adults would like to move closer to home, but find it difficult to find meaningful career opportunities for both of them. Further, metropolitan areas, which provide important stepping stone job opportunities in young adults’ careers, also provide many amenities, activities and entertainment that young adults seek.
Thus we are back to the core challenges of our rural communities: How might we ensure and create meaningful job opportunities for all those who grow up in our region? And, how might we help those who want to return find meaningful job opportunities and a satisfying quality of life? As grandparents, we selfishly desire for our children to return home. At the macro level, we must have young adults remaining and returning or we risk extinguishing our vibrant rural existence. I know I sound like a broken record, but the loss of 15 percent of our young adults and 7 percent of our school-age children experienced this past decade in our southern Indiana rural counties is not sustainable.
On April 24, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation and Office of Community and Rural Affairs will roll out the first Young Entrepreneur Preview hosted at Purdue where soon-to-be entrepreneurship graduates from across the state will present their business plan to our local communities and economic development organizations. We are hopeful to attract at least a few of these young people and their businesses to our rural communities. Efforts like I-67 and economic development projects being developed across District 74 ensure the infrastructure and job creation necessary to attract and retain young adults to vibrant communities. Expanding amenities such as Holiday World, Lincoln Amphitheatre, local folk festivals, community development and preservation activities make us even more attractive. I commend the countless organizations and businesses which strive each day to grow and improve southern Indiana.
As Easter week is upon us, let us also reflect on our faith-based heritage of the Benedictine monks of St. Meinrad and women religious of Monastery Immaculate Conception. The Rule of St. Benedict, which serves as their guide, is based on the core values of prayer, work, community, and hospitality. Thanks to their presence and role modeling, many of these values are integrated into our communities and families as well. May we rejoice in the promise of Easter, His presence with us always, and appreciate the heritage we have in beautiful southern Indiana which I believe rightly earns the name of God’s Country.