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Shreveport mayoral candidates address exodus of youth September 28, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Workforce.

One of the themes behind this blog is that workforce development is a driver of ecnoomic development. Nowhere is that more true than when considering the impending mass retirements of the American Baby Boom generation. As these people retire, there is a need to replace them (and their skills) in their local workforces.

Problem is, the young people don’t necesarily want to stay in their hometowns. This has been addressed all over this blog through my continued references to professor Richard Florida and his “creative class” studies. In addition, I’ve spent effort discussing the growth of Young Professional Networks that are growing in communities on a near-organic basis.

Now, the issue of youth exodus from our small and mid-sized towns is entering the political realm – and I’d guess that its importance as a policy issue will only grow. Mayoral candidates in Shreveport, Louisiana were asked by The Shreveport Times about the issue and offered their insights. I won’t give any candidate quote space in this blog; read the article if you want to know where they stand. Some of those candidates were pretty creative.

But I will offer some insights that The Times solicited from Shreveport high schoolers.

In three paragraphs, The Times summarizes a whole host of core issues related to retention of young adults:

“One of the many reasons people leave Shreveport and move to other cities such as Dallas, Houston and San Antonio is because the job opportunities are greater and the pay is better,” said Draydon Dunn, Caddo Magnet High School senior who hopes to become a Christian missionary.

Caddo Magnet junior and future pre-medicine major Ashley Hill said a major concern is the education system, which is “much better everywhere else in the country.”

Caddo Magnet junior Brandon Burroughs said the lack of entertainment in the area is another reason he thinks young people are leaving.

Communities across the country could benefit from what these kids have to say.



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