Leaving Iowa after college graduation is not necessarily a bad thing as long as some of those leaving come back, panelists at a Waterloo forum said Tuesday night. But those who return need to be joined by others who move into the state and stay because they want to be here in order for Iowa to grow, they said.
“We don’t want people just settling here,” Danny Laudick, talent solutions coordinator at the Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber, said. “We want people choosing to be here.”
Laudick was one of four panelists speaking at a forum organized by IowaWatch and hosted by forum partner The Courier of Waterloo-Cedar Falls. The Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber was a financial supporter of the forum, held in response to an IowaWatch report about the exodus of graduates after they complete college in Iowa and seek jobs.
Jobs exist in Iowa, the panelists said. Moreover, quality of life matters such as lower housing costs and prices for goods, commute times and outdoors opportunities exist, they said. “As Iowans, we should be bragging about what we have here,” Rachel Evans, career services coordinator at Hawkeye Community College, said.
“We have a sense of community,” Sherman Wise, market manager for Waterloo-Cedar Falls, Premier Staffing Inc., said. “You can’t really call Chicago a community. The Cedar Valley is a community.”
But other opportunities, such as diverse cultural offerings are not as prevalent, panelists said. “You experience such a small part of the world in Iowa,” said Nicholas Fisher, a University of Northern Iowa student from Mechanicsville, Iowa, who did reporting for the IowaWatch report from the university and incoming editor of The Northern Iowan newspaper. Fisher just finished his sophomore year.