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MSU, Talent and Reversing the “Brain Drain” in #LoveLansing

MSU in the Region: Employees, Students and Alumni

On September 17, LEAP’s board of directors heard from Dr. Janet Lillie, assistant vice president for community relations at Michigan State University (MSU), about the economic impact of MSU’s students, employees and alumni throughout the greater Lansing region.

Lillie broke down the university’s economic impact across Clinton, Eaton, Ingham and Shiawassee counties, which totals nearly $3 billion annually, noting the distribution of faculty and staff across the region, 10,978 of whom live in a 50-mile radius of campus. Top locations for university employees were Meridian Township, Lansing and East Lansing.

Between 2011 and 2019, Meridian Township, Delta Township, Delhi Township, Dewitt, Lansing and Bath enjoyed the largest increases in residency for MSU employees, with the region overall seeing a 281-person increase in residency.

Approximately 25,000 of the 35,000 MSU students who live off campus reside throughout the Lansing region, and approximately 13,000 live in East Lansing. Including the portion of students who live on campus, approximately 29,000 people of the total 48,600 living in East Lansing — 60% of the city’s population — are students.

Of nearly 576,000 MSU alumni worldwide, 42,000 live in Ingham county, 8,584 in Clinton county, 7,085 in Eaton county and 2,545 in Shiawassee county. Since the 1981-1985 group of graduating classes, retention of local alumni — students whose hometown is in Clinton, Eaton, Ingham or Shiawassee county — has steadily increased, with a 2.8% jump in retention from the 2006-2010 group to 2011-2015.

Lillie expects this upward trend in retention to increase and closed off the presentation by reflecting on MSU’s spring and summer semester 2018 graduates. 1,259 of 7,295 total graduates have stayed in the area to work or continue their education, which nearly triples the number of local students who chose to stay after graduation.

Talent Wars: What People Look for in Jobs and Locations

Following Lillie’s presentation, Victoria Meadows, vice president of marketing and communications at LEAP, provided a complementary summary of a recent report on talent attraction from Development Counselors International (DCI).

The report, Talent Wars: What People Look for in Jobs and Locations, dove into an understanding of the various motivations behind why people of all ages relocate. The study sample included 1,500 people ages 21-71 across industries and education levels and revealed that 85% of people are open to job relocation.

41% of those relocating would prefer a new state completely, while 26% would look within their current state and 19% within the same region. Top factors when considering locations included housing cost, cost of living, a welcoming local population and availability of housing. This bodes well for the Lansing, which was named the #1 Best Affordable Place to Live in 2018 by Livability.com. In 2019, Okemos was named Niche.com’s #8 Best Place to Live in America.

Our region also has a proud history of inclusion and welcoming, serving as the birthplace for the first localized LGBT group in Michigan, the Michigan Organization for Human Rights and the Lansing Association for Human Rights soon after. The greater Lansing region is also working to become Michigan’s most sensory-friendly community, with a variety of activities and options that allow everyone to experience and enjoy their community free of barriers or stress.

September’s presentations highlighted many reasons to be optimistic about the Lansing region’s future, which led to strong discussion about how to maintain the region’s positive momentum moving forward.

Learn more about the benefits of LEAP membership, including access to these types of topical presentations and discussions.