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Purdue seeking employee partnerships to fight brain drain

The Purdue University Northwest campus in Hammond.

Several Indiana communities, including Gary, Hammond and Indianapolis, made bids for Amazon HQ2's economic development prize of 50,000 workers and $5 billion in investment.

The Hoosier state lost out, of course, to New York City and suburbs of Washington D.C. in Northern Virginia, with some observers pointing to human talent as a determining factor.

A state university aims to do something about Indiana's ongoing and much-decried brain-drain problem, in which college graduates leave the state to seek opportunity elsewhere, and is seeking businesses to partner with. Purdue University launched its "Brain Gain Initiative" that aims to lure Purdue alumni back to Indiana, and invited 278 companies across the state asking them to join the program.

“A few years ago, Indiana reached the top tier in every ranking of good business climates, but the one category where we lag, as our governor points out at every opportunity, is in having sufficient human capital,” Purdue University President Mitch Daniels said.

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The Brain Gain Initiative is teaming up with the startup TMAP to connect Purdue alumni like doctors, physicians and marketers with job opportunities across the state in an effort to attract more talent to Indiana.

“Fifteen years ago, many of us adopted as our central goal, the reversal of the state’s brain drain,” Daniels said. “Since that time, Indiana’s population has begun outgrowing our neighbors, including a net in-migration of college graduates, but it’s not nearly enough. This initiative, if we do it right, will be the next great step in strengthening our Indiana community and economy.”

Wallethub estimates that Indiana ranks 38th nationally in the education of its workforce. U.S. Census data estimates that about 33.2 percent of the state's working-age adults have at least a two-year college degree.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.