August 15, 2014

Vermont has picturesque villages, apple orchards, and amazing fall colors, but it’s losing one important thing – young, talented workers.

But Vermont is not alone. States with rural areas and smaller cities struggle with the problem of “brain drain.” Students frequently attend local colleges and then take their degrees to big cities like New York, San Francisco, and Chicago.

However, Vermont is pushing back and beginning to develop its own start-up scene. “It’s small, but growing,” says Annie Russell of Vermont Public Radio.

Russell notes that while some tech companies are setting up shop in Burlington, many of Vermont’s fledgling companies are rooted in food and agriculture, like the maple soda that’s started popping up at farmers’ markets.

But it will take more than soda and artisanal cheese to keep graduates in the state. Russell talked with several young graduates who were concerned that even if they did find a good job, they would have limited career paths.

“You know, honestly, if I knew a young professional that wanted to move here, I probably wouldn’t advise it. It’s a tough place to be, and it’s a tougher place to be as a young professional on your own,” says Jenna Pugliese, the environmental manager at Stratton Mountain Resort.

Still, this isn’t a new problem for Vermont. Russell says that Calvin Coolidge, a Vermont native, lamented the problem of his friends leaving the state.

Now, Vermont is looking for 21st century solutions. “You can work in tech from anywhere. So for people whom the outdoors is very important to them, this might be an ideal place to sort of grow that scene.”

Here are more of Annie Russell’s stories on the current state of jobs in Vermont:

Annie Russell, Vermont, Silicon Valley, Business

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