The Best and Brightest Initiative is the first comprehensive incentive package in the nation for STEM young talent, and the 7-year-old program is growing rapidly.
The program offers $15,000 for student loan reimbursement or housing – and that is only scratching the surface of the program benefits. From helping with house hunting to legally wedding couples to providing support in an emergency, we focus on making the transition to Decatur as seamless and personable as possible. There are opportunities for mentors, relocation assistance, realtor connections, physician recommendations, and much more. Our goal is concierge service. If our members need it, we make it happen!
Our members are immediately connected to the community when they accept a spot with The Best and Brightest. The group meets often for all-expense-paid dinners, frequently with community leaders; concerts; paint parties; and any additional fun activities we can provide. We want members to be exposed to different restaurants, venues, and small businesses in the area. We ensure that they have all the tools they need not just to succeed but to thrive in a new place and build a foundation for a great life.
The Initiative now welcomes multiple degree types, with ample support and funding for STEM graduates, educators, nurses, and more. Recently, the City of Decatur approved $500,000 toward the program to support its ongoing growth, and partnering with Decatur City Schools and Decatur Morgan Hospital has allowed us to offer new opportunities and incentives for our applicants, too.
The application process is simple and precise. We are looking for young professionals who meet the degree requirements, but we go out of our way to seek individuals who will impact Decatur for years to come. We currently have 40+ members representing more than 8 home states.
Independent economic development studies of the program have projected an annual return of $5,400 per member per year for the City of Decatur, not including the member’s spouse or any additional people they bring with them. Their home purchases, vehicle tag purchases and renewals, online and offline shopping purchases, and more all return revenue to the county and the city.
Decatur City Schools educator Erin Sprague says, “I knew very little about Decatur at the time and feared the unknown of starting a family in a new state. I am so thankful to have found this community and to have been welcomed with open arms. I found a job that I love and was recently named Head of the Science Department at Austin High School! The Best and Brightest has made Decatur truly feel like home and the perfect place to raise our family!”
Erin and her husband, Chase, are thriving in Decatur and have just welcomed their second child, Logan.
The Initiative is much more than a group of young professionals; The Best and Brightest is a family.