Is Ethnic Diversity the Key to Retaining Cincinnati's College Graduates?

Yahoo Contributor Network

A Brookings Institution study shows the gap is widening between metro areas that boast a large number of college-educated residents and those that increasingly have fewer. Yahoo! News asked contributors from cities around the nation to propose solutions on how their cities can attract and keep college graduates -- and what they're doing well.

CINCINNATI

My daughter earned a Ph.D. from Ohio State University in 2010. After a lengthy job search in Cincinnati, she's accepted a position in Tallahassee, Fla. She's just one more Cincinnati college graduate the city couldn't keep. Her experience is in line with a 2009 Fordham University study: "Losing Ohio's Future: Why college graduates flee the Buckeye State and what might be done about it." The study cited an annual loss of 8,700 college graduates across Ohio.

Madison, Wis., doesn't have that problem. It's a fair comparison. That college city has resilient industries and lots of college grads. While Cincinnati's population (296,943) and Madison's (233,209) are pretty close, recent census data show some big differences in their workforces. Cincinnati has 30.8 percent college graduates compared to Madison's 52.2 percent. The median Madison household income is $52,550 and Cincinnati's is $33,681.

What can Cincinnati do? The southern Ohio city has a lot of the things Madison has. It also has the entertainment and culture, affordable housing, family friendly atmosphere and green spaces that are on Fordham Institute's list of college graduate must-haves.

The city's A-Z Community Development list and choosecincy.com/ highlight efforts to improve the business and private sectors; but the Cincinnati area still lacks ethnic diversity. That's another college grad must-have. Cincinnati is mostly black (44.8 percent) and white (49.3 percent ). If that changes, it could be help keep college students in the city.

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