STATEHOUSE - The first ever Southern Indiana Rural Communities Summit to address the issue of 'brain drain' was hosted this week by State Rep. Sue Ellspermann (R-Ferdinand). Of the nearly 150 participants, there were local government officials, school corporation superintendents, economic developers, business leaders, community leaders and high school students in attendance at the Huntingburg Event Center. The Summit was sponsored by German American Bank, Perry Spencer Communications, and the University of Southern Indiana.
Those who attended heard from Dr. Mohammed Khayum, Dean of the USI College of Business who spoke about the demographic shifts in Southwest Indiana; Rep. Ellspermann, who is also the Director of the Center for Applied Research at USI, discussed rural school enrollments; Charmaine McDowell, Director of USI's Center for Human Resource Development highlighted portions of the book Hollowing Out the Middle; and finally David Terrell, Deputy Chief of Staff to the Lt. Gov. Office and Director of the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA), discussed best practices of Hoosier rural communities.
"Sue has done a great job of bringing the entire Southwest Indiana rural community together to focus on an issue with importance to all of us," said Mark Schroder, CEO of German American Bank. "She has been able to build awareness and opened the eyes of many who attended the summit today."
Those who attended participated in a SWOT analysis of the brain drain issue as related to rural Southwest Indiana and then worked in groups to discuss potential solutions. A SWOT analysis is a strategic planning method used to identify, Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats to a problem.
"The issue of brain drain is one that is both a regional challenge and opportunity," said Dr. Mark Bernhard, Associate Provost for Outreach and Engagement at USI. "I was excited to see diversity in the individuals and organizations that participated in the event, including representatives from the public and private sectors, universities and cooperative extensions from all 11 counties. To effect change it is important that we take a broad-based approach and have diverse leadership. Also, I was heartened to see young members of the community participating in the summit. "
Participants also heard from special guest Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman who spoke on the great Hoosier rural communities.
"The summit was very timely from a subject matter standpoint," said Jim Dauby, President and CEO of PSC. "The event was very well organized, well attended and the level of participation was incredible. Everything Sue set out to achieve was accomplished today. PSC was very glad to sponsor the summit and will continue to when needed in the future."
If you are interested in participating in future summits or helping find solutions to the specific regional issues identified at the summit please contact Rep. Ellspermann at firstname.lastname@example.org.