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Plugging Indiana’s brain drain

Two entrepreneurship events aim to encourage students to establish roots in Indiana

By Anna Oelerich | Contributor

Indiana Brain Drain

Most college graduates leave the state after they turn the tassel
Graphic by Becca Robb

So you’re graduating from Taylor, and wondering where you’ll head next.

If you’re anything like many Indiana college graduates, the answer is “anywhere but here.”

Maybe you dream of kissing the flat cornfields of Indiana goodbye and heading somewhere warmer, where the jobs are plentiful and perfectly suited to your major.  You’d be in good company; studies from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business show that over 50 percent of college students in Indiana leave within five years of throwing their caps in the air. But what happens to the state that disappears in the rearview mirror?

What happens is human capital flight—or, as it’s more commonly known, a “brain drain.” A brain drain occurs when a mass of highly intelligent people suddenly migrates from one area, causing a scarcity of well-educated residents. Put simply, Indiana woos plenty of young adults to its schools, but has a hard time convincing them to stay post-graduation.

According to a 2011 Ball State University report, Indiana attracts fewer college graduates between ages 25 and 64 than are needed for economic growth. It’s an unfortunate cycle: when degree-holding adults leave the state, fewer educated people are left behind, which makes the state less attractive to new businesses and entrepreneurs.

In his September 2015 article for the Indianapolis Star, Mark L. Akers, assistant professor of business at the University of Indianapolis, stated that entrepreneurship is the key to making Indiana an attractive place to live.

“We need to develop the relationships with (investors) that allow connections with entrepreneurs and startups, legal help, marketing help and mentors—those who have been through it before and can give guidance to people with great ideas who have never started a business,” Akers said.

Taylor students will have two unique opportunities to rub elbows with such entrepreneurs in the coming weeks. The first, Date to Innovate, is hosted by the Grant County Economic Growth Council and will give students the chance to network with some of Indiana’s top entrepreneurs.

“Date To Innovate is important because it brings unique resources in personal format to the community, targeting students, young professionals and small businesses,” said Tim Eckerle, Grant County Economic Growth Council’s executive director.

Taylor’s own Promising Ventures will host a Praxis event next month in the new Boren Campus Center. Praxis is a non-profit venture company that seeks to merge faith and entrepreneurship.

Director of Promising Ventures Jeff Aupperle is excited to bring the group to campus.

“Praxis holds an annual academy for 100 students across the country who want to make an impact on culture,” Aupperle said. “As part of (our) partnership, Praxis is coming to our campus to bring a taste of the Academy into a one-day event.”

Date to Innovate will take place on March 15 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Marion, while the Praxis event will take place on April 8 from 5 to 9 p.m. in the Campus Center. Participants can register for Date to Innovate by emailing Charity Bailey at, and can RSVP for Praxis at

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