Greenville leaders searching for ways to keep young graduates local

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – When figuring out how to grow Greenville, leaders want to turn to the community.

It’s looking like it will be a community effort to change the hearts and minds of young grads who often take their skills elsewhere.

Wednesday night, leaders held a frank discussion about recruiting local college graduates. Another year has passed and another class leaves ECU, as well as Greenville.

The city brings in thousands of people because of the university, but it’s losing the opportunity to retain young professionals. Erin Barfield is a graduate of ECU and decided to stay in Greenville and open a business in uptown. She even stayed here after getting a degree.

“I kind of just fell in love with [the] area and the community while I was at school at ECU. And when I started my business, I knew it was like the perfect fit. It’s a really big incentive for businesses to come here with the area seeing so much growth,” Barfield said.

However, most students find jobs elsewhere.

“The first thing we need to do is create a business-friendly environment,” Barfield added.

Council Member Mclean Godley is working with other elected leaders to determine how to recruit and retain recent grads.

“At the end of the day, you go to college to make good money. And we need to make sure we’re bringing jobs to town that enables them to make a good salary,” Godley added.

Godley also said showcasing the opportunities that Greenville has to offer will hopefully draw people from outside the area as well.

“We want to build our community not only from keeping a larger percentage of our young professionals, but I want to bring in families of four to Greenville from all across the state,” said Godley. “We really need to get this mindset out that people need to leave, and go to bigger cities to get what they need. Like we have everything that you need right here in the city. It’s a great place to be.”

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