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MAAPP Students Organize Event About Retaining Grads Locally

July 21, 2017

By: Mariel Carbone | WCTV Eyewitness News

Each year, thousands of college grads across the Capital City are faced with a decision: to stay, or to go. Many choose to go.

“After school I'd probably head out to other cities,” said Carolina Paz, a junior at Florida State University.

The phenomenon is known as “brain drain,” with educated grads picking up and moving on to bigger cities. It’s a choice that local stakeholders and leaders are trying to change.

Friday, Florida State University’s Master of Applied American Politics and Policy students hosted a round table where local leaders met to discuss the idea of keeping young professionals in Tallahassee. Panelists included Congressman Al Lawson, County Commissioner John Dailey, City Commissioner Curtis Richardson, Tallahassee Network of Young Professionals President Brittany Mukadam, Tallahassee Democrat President Skip Foster, and Chair of the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce Talent Initiative Berneice Cox.

"I think our number one thing that we hear if people do want to move is probably going to be based on jobs,” said Mukadam.

Commissioner Curtis Richardson acknowledged that Tallahassee has long been viewed as a government town, with people staying or moving here to work in state jobs. But, he said that has lost its luster. Now, the city needs to focus on building private sector jobs in order to keep young professionals.

"The jobs that will pay them a high wage and provide them with the skills and training that they need,” said Richardson.

Aside from jobs, the panel discussed building up amenities and creating a “live, work, play” environment. Commissioner Dailey described it as creating a “cool place” to live.

"We've got to provide the experience. We got to provide the cultural amenities, the environmental amenities. We've got to have great infrastructure, along with a strong job base to move forward,” said Dailey.

He also noted that a lot of young professionals are choosing where they want to live first, and finding jobs second.

Still, the group also agreed that there needs to be a focus on what makes Tallahassee unique.

"We're this big town, small town. And that's a good thing,” said Mukadam. "If we as young professionals were in Atlanta, it's harder to make a difference. And here, you can actually shape Tallahassee and make a direct impact."

Mukadam said another asset of Tallahassee for young professionals is its lower cost of living compared to the big cities.

Several panelists said it's important to listen to the young professionals and college graduates and hear what they’re looking for in a community. It was suggested that another panel is held featuring that group.