‘Going Places’

Call the governor. Gather the congress. Inform the universities, business owners and housing developers.

It’s a light bulb idea: I’ve figured out how to keep young people in Iowa.

It’s simple really, we’ve just got to redefine Iowa as a “place to go.”

Confused? Think about your conversations with or about young people these days.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a conversation about a talented young person that has included the phrase “he/she is going places.”

Sadly, this implies to us that the particular talented youngster in question will soon be fleeing our presence, taking off to a big city paying job. and finding a big meaningful high-paying job.

Often, I have to bite my lip in these conversations. You see, I’m still among those target young people the governor and congress are trying so hard to keep in the state. I hope people in my hometown used to say I was among those who would be “going places.”

Somewhere along the way, I must have mistranslated what that meant and messed up on my goals. Somehow, somewhere, I decided the Lakes area was a good “place to go.”

Six years later, I still think that Okoboji was a great place to choose – not a place to “start,” but a good solid place to “land.” I think that managing a newspaper is a meaningful job – although “high paying” would be a stretch of anyone’s imagination. I don’t think I’ve ever be among the mindset that you have to go to a big city to “go places.”

Each time I meet with the area’s Emerging Professionals Club, I feel I’m surrounded by a group of other individuals who have also “gone places” in Okoboji. I am among marketing professionals, bankers, promotion specialists. Sadly, we may be among the minority of young professionals who have gone places yet stayed in the state.

I had to wear my “press” hat last week at a joint meeting of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, Iowa Department of Economic Development, Iowa Department of Education and Iowa Workforce Development. I wanted to pipe in my opinion when they started discussing how difficult the task is to keep youth in the state.

I can’t help but think this whole “going places” thought process is part of our statewide youth out-migration dilemma.

Our youth believe that in order to “go places” they must literally leave the state and go somewhere else. This isn’t a belief they’ve created on their own. Many seasoned Iowa residents talk with that terminology.

So, I’ve decided that all that’s needed to fix Iowa’s youth issue is the redefinition of Iowa as a “place to go.”

Not long ago at a gathering of young professionals clubs from throughout the state, we were encouraged to share with others the reasons we have stayed in the state.

I encourage everyone to do the same. Tell your children why you picked Iowa. Explain how they can “go places” without leaving the area. Help foster the kind of culture, social opportunities and recreation that make our communities “places to go.”

Help them “go places” and stay in our state – generations to come will benefit from it.