Voice of the People: ‘Brain Drain’ claim way off mark

November 29, 2018

On Nov. 1, 2018, the Chicago Tribune ran an article titled “Kankakee is No. 2 on list of U.S. cities losing the most brainpower.”

This article rated Kankakee, Ill., second on the list of cities suffering from a “brain drain” with an outflow of “skilled and highly educated workers.” While I cannot speak to the four other communities listed in this article, nor am I aware of the criteria that was used in the ranking, I do know that Kankakee County is moving forward with industry, education, infrastructure, tourism and overall quality of life.

Lindy Casey, a professional in Kankakee County, recently told me, “I’m proud to say I’ve lived in Kankakee County my entire life. I’m even more proud to say that I’ve not only worked locally, but in cities throughout the United States and countries around the world — Australia, South Africa, United Kingdom, England, Ireland, Mexico, to name a few. My education and professional experiences have taught me the passion and perseverance in Kankakee County is something I have not witnessed anywhere else. The determination here to continually improve the economy, wealth and quality of life is inspiring.”

On Nov. 15, the Kankakee County Chamber of Commerce honored 40 young professionals younger than 40 years old that are changing the face of our community. These young professionals span industries from media to health care, from education to public service, and from corporate to nonprofit organizations. Each of the young professionals who are on this list have made a conscious decision to lay roots in Kankakee County and build upon the foundation that was set before us by the previous generations.

The future of Kankakee County will not be held back by the challenges of yesterday, though. Like so many other communities across America, we have seen industries come and go, but saying Kankakee is second nationally in “brain drain” is hard to believe when we celebrate the accomplishments of 40 young professionals and the countless others who have chosen to invest their time and money in our county’s future. I don’t know about you, but the future of the Chicagoland area is bright thanks to the young professionals across the region, including Kankakee County.

Barbi Brewer-Watson

President and CEO

Kankakee County Chamber of Commerce

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