Recently, The Explorer’s intern Lori Mervin said she would be moving on to bigger and better things, taking a job in Washington D.C. We wished her well, but were sad to see her go.
Unfortunately, this scenario with our young people has become all-too familiar.
Mervin has become known quickly throughout the Marana and Oro Valley communities for her take on local eateries and her hard work in writing about community events.
Mervin was offered a position with The Explorer, we told her we wanted her to stay, but her respectful decline was no surprise, and neither was her reasoning.
Mervin said what so many of our young people say. They say Tucson has nothing to offer them. She said she had been looking for jobs in Chicago, New York and Washington.
Granted, it’s hard to compete with those cities, but Tucson really isn’t being competitive with any major city at this point. We are even losing our young people to Phoenix, and you know it’s bad if they are willing to relocate to Sun-Devil territory.
We are losing our young, talented and educated population to the more exciting cities that offer new, higher-paying jobs. These students are coming to the University, getting educated and they are leaving.
The only ones staying here are the ones with family ties, those who truly love the community, or those who just have no other option at the moment. Some of those who stay, end up becoming a Tucsonan for life, others can’t wait for the opportunity to leave.
On a side note, we are also losing some of our most promising high school graduates. These students are looking for colleges outside the state, and once they earn their degrees, they are not coming back.
At some point, the City of Tucson along with the Town of Oro Valley, the Town of Marana and Pima County have to address the fact that we are not keeping the young population that we want to keep.
We want these successful individuals to stay here, build a career here and become our future leaders.
The region isn’t helping itself with the high unemployment rate and low-paying jobs, and the competition is getting intense.
The Class of 2010 entered a workforce where they are competing with classmates, the laid off workforce, veterans and those still unemployed from former classes, such as those in 2009 and 2008.
It’s a tough climate, but we still have to find a way to make these newly graduated, and ready to work young people feel welcome in our communities. It’s important that we encourage these students to stay, rather than earn their degree and run.
This is not just the responsibility of our elected officials. The University of Arizona, Pima Community College and local chambers must start figuring out how to better connect with students to get them involved with the community, to see what Tucson has to offer and why staying here is good for their future.
It’s been estimated that just over 32 percent of university graduates actually stay in Tucson. We need to do better than that.
We need to create business opportunity and excitement in our younger generation.
Another factor to consider is that many graduates want to start their own business. In a recent study of the Millennial Generation, people ages 18-34 want to start their own business. This study, reported by the Kauffman Foundation found that 54% of those surveyed were either planning to start a business, or have already.
For Arizona and Tucson, this statistic doesn’t help in retaining those future entrepreneurs because there is not a strong market for new businesses, especially those being opened by our younger generation.
— Thelma Grimes