Group looks to plug region’s ‘brain drain’ as graduates look elsewhere for futures
Two startups were born in the same coworking space near downtown Blacksburg in 2014. They both went on to raise money from venture capitalists, launch products and hire employees — just like economic developers like to see.
But only one did so in Blacksburg.
Today, both the company that stayed, Card Isle, and the one that left, LawnStarter, are happy with their respective decisions.
But the opposing experiences highlight the complex — and often invisible — calculus that new graduates consider when choosing where to put down roots.
More of them should be looking in the Lynchburg, Roanoke and New River Valley area, local leaders said Wednesday following a yearlong assessment of the region’s ability to attract, engage and retain talent.
“Stopping the Brain Drain,” the study sponsored by the GO Virginia initiative, found that 18% of local college students surveyed said they would search for jobs within the region after graduation. The majority, meanwhile, said they either didn’t know (26%) or would look outside Virginia (31%).
That number is too low, leaders from the region’s three largest economic development groups — the Roanoke Regional Partnership, Onward New River Valley and the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance — agreed at a press event Wednesday.
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