Group says Dane County Facing "Brain Drain"

By: Dana Brueck
By: Dana Brueck

"Brain drain" is more than a catch phrase for Dane County. A Madison-based group says the loss of young, educated professionals is a real problem.
A new report shows Dane County is losing young people at rates faster than 80 percent of other counties nationwide.

Jefferson County's county seat sits between Milwaukee and Madison ... a small town atmosphere between two of the state's metro areas.
"I'm very much interested in the quality of life," Dennis Heling says.
Heling ought to be. He works at creating jobs and retaining talent for the county as part of its economic development team.
"We're seeing a lot of housing starts," he says.
Perhaps in part because Dane county's loss is Jefferson's gain.
Ward Lyles says nearly half of people ages 25 to 34 moved to adjacent counties, including Jefferson.
Lyles is executive director for Magnet, a Madison-based group dedicated to attracting, keeping and connecting young professionals in the area.
Magnet came up with the numbers after taking a look at census data from 2000.
Lyles says, "Dane County has a large brain drain problem ... we're losing more people from early 20's ... mid-30's ... than most of our peer counties."
The group's numbers also show a decline in recent graduates who choose to stay in the area.
Seventy percent of 20-to-24 year-olds move to major metro areas, such as Milwaukee, Chicago, Minneapolis and New York City.
Magnet's executive director hopes the results prompt discussion of the problem and its consequences.
"The real concern is are they part of our civic life, are they volunteering in organizations ... paying property taxes ... investing here," Lyles asks.
Magnet's study does not give reasons behind the "brain drain."
To find out find out more about Magnet and its study, you can visit the organization's website at

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