Emporia copes with ‘brain drain’


State News

April 22, 2019 - 9:48 AM

Emporia, population 24,700, has always been home to manufacturing. City leaders now hope to bring more technology jobs to the area. PEGGY LOWE/KCUR 89.3

A small city in Kansas is determined to prove The Onion wrong.

Folks in Emporia weren’t laughing when the satirical paper named it “best town to escape from” in 2017. In fact, the “brain drain” from rural areas has been a problem across the country for decades. Since 2000, Emporia’s population has declined more than 7 percent. It’s now home to 24,724 people.

“We understood that nobody was going to invest in us if we didn’t,” says Casey Woods, executive director of Emporia Main Street, a non-profit that advocates for local businesses and heritage.

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