Organizations work to slow the 'brain drain' in Jones County

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ANAMOSA, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- It's a challenge many rural communities are facing throughout Iowa.

After graduation, a lot of students from high school and college move out of their small towns, which can have an impact on that town's economy.

TV9 spoke with the Jones County Economic Development and Workplace Learning Connection in Anamosa on trying to stop the "brain drain."

In Jones County, they are working with middle school and high school students to talk about job opportunities throughout the county.

It's part of a partnership between the Jones County Economic Development and the Work Place Learning Connection, a division of Kirkwood Community College.

In February the Workplace Learning Connection visited a classroom of Anamosa Middle School Students.

They also brought in different businesses and employees from around town to speak with these kids.

The Jones County Economic Development says they want to show students how they can stay in town and still get higher paying jobs like becoming an engineer, a veterinarian, or even an FBI agent.

"A lot of our businesses are hiring right now, again I think it's awareness and letting the kids know that there are really good jobs here, just to know what they are and I think that's what a big piece of the Workforce Learning and Kirkwood does is to bring that awareness," Patty Manuel, President of the Jones County Economic Development said.

The Jones County Economic Development says over the last few years Anamosa has opened a number of retail businesses on their Main Street.

Spark Boutique, Gypsy Moon gift shop, and BREATHE, a holistic medicine shop, are some of the newer businesses on Main Street.

Their town is also popular when it comes to tourism due to their many different museums.

If you go to Monticello, they've got more manufacturing based jobs that the economic development says continues to grow.

Both groups say their goal is to retain some of their talented young students who want to live and work in Jones County.

Jones County Economic Development and Workplace Learning Connection in Anamosa tell us without enough people to run these businesses, it could force stores around town to close.

"I mean we have a lot of businesses that have older employees that you know they need high quality younger individuals to come in and take those positions and you know we need to get the word out to these kids that these opportunities are here and that you know this is a great place to stay," Tris Langdon said.

Langdon said she got married and left Iowa for 13 years, but she came back because she knew she wanted to raise her children in Jones County.

Now she's hoping to teach other students about all the careers Jones County has to offer so they will want to continue living and working in the community.