Rural young Kansans cite childcare, broadband access, housing as reasons for outmigration

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Published Monday, August 30, 2021
by Kimberly James | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) - A report by the Kansas Sampler Foundation's Power Up and Go project examines some of the challenges rural young people cite when considering employment and residency in the state or outmigration.

"Kansas has been contending with rural outmigration within Kansas and outmigration from Kansas to other states for decades," Dan Murray, Kansas state director of National Federation of Independent Business, told The Center Square. "The bottom line is that people will go where the jobs are. And, policymakers have tried numerous tactics to retain and attract young workers and professionals for years."

Survey questions asked what young Kansans think would enliven communities that are facing outmigration. Respondents called attention to issues with child care, broadband access and affordable, accessible housing.

"Respondents overwhelmingly identified that, while rural needs may be specifically local, the issues are systemic across the state," Lt. Gov. and Commerce Secretary David Toland said in a news release from Gov. Laura Kelly's office. "By focusing on the recurring challenges, like broadband and housing, we can see where our state needs to emphasize funding and additional resources for everyone.

"This report will help us paint a fuller, more detailed picture of rural Kansas communities, both individually and as a whole."

Other areas of focus in survey responses included creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem, creating a healthier space for employees, and cultivating a positive and inclusive culture among rural Kansas.

"The state and local leaders must provide a welcoming environment for businesses to locate and grow jobs," Murray said. "That means when we look at the issues that confront small business owners the most, providing for a friendly tax climate, reducing regulations that prevent growth and development, and promoting a backbone of workforce development to provide the critical training needs."

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