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.
It's a privilege to live in the Ozarks. My family and I have lived in southwest Missouri for two decades and the area continues to grow. There are several colleges and universities in Springfield alone, including the second-largest public university in the state. College graduates who come to school here often stay. There are several reasons why. Perhaps other cities can look to Springfield, the third-largest Missouri city, as a model to lure college graduates to stay in town.
Growth: Springfield continues to grow. Its population grew by nearly 8,000 people from 2000 to 2010. There is always road construction and buildings are going up. The economic downturn didn't affect the area as much with the diversified economy. Springfield relies on the education and health care industries, both of which need college-educated people to work. Mercy Health and Cox Health are always hiring nurses. Mercy currently has 29 of its 60 system-wide nursing positions in the Springfield area. Cox was recently named one of Springfield's "Choice Employers" by Springfield Business Journal.
Incentives: Over a quarter of Springfield residents have at least a four-year degree, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. The city offers incentives for homeowners for businesses and homeowners to stay in Springfield. There are low-interest loans for rehabbing older houses, assistance for first-time home buyers and assistance for making down payments.
Innovation: Local universities are on board for keeping college graduates. Missouri State University built the Jordan Valley Innovation Center near downtown that offers researchers with engineering degrees a chance to do important work in the field of nanotechnology. Students in Free Enterprise is headquartered in Springfield. The organization gives students and entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed in business.
On top of all these incentives, Springfield is a thriving city with plenty to offer. Sporting events, theatrical productions and plenty of shopping make the area a hub of activity to raise a family.