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December 18, 2003
Section: Local News

Group seeks answers to why college grads exit state of Ohio
Repository staff writer

JACKSON TWP. — Through a regional partnership, the Canton Regional and Greater Akron chambers of commerce and the Stark Education Partnership are seeking solutions to the “brain drain” of college graduates from northeast Ohio.
The groups recently teamed up to spearhead the College Graduate Retention Initiative Research Project. Funding was provided through a grant from the Ohio Department of Development, as part of Gov. Robert Taft’s “Third Frontier” Initiative.

Highlights of a 200-page report, “Why Do They Leave?” were presented on Wednesday at the Stark State College of Technology.

The presentation centered on statistics acquired from two Web-based surveys of 1,361 alumni who graduated from college or university in northeast Ohio and now live outside of the state, and a survey of businesses regarding their approach to internships, career development and job opportunities.

The study, which was conducted by Kent State University’s Stark Campus, also looked at factors that can influence a graduate’s decision to relocate.

The vast majority of respondents said they left Ohio because “quality of life” issues, followed by better employment opportunities, and a region’s “economic environment.”

The survey also found that:

• One in eight respondents said they were recruited on campus by out-of-state companies.

• More than 18 percent are in the field of education, followed by medical, government, and computer technology.

• 47 percent said a warmer climate and family needs were factors in relocating.

• The top relocation states are California, Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida, New York, North Carolina, Virginia and Illinois.

• Although 48 percent live in the mid-south, or in Mid-Atlantic states, the single largest percent (10 percent) live in Pennsylvania, followed by California and Florida at 8.7 and 7.6 percent, respectively.

• 45 percent said they were seeking more diversity, and more recreation opportunities.

• 40 percent cited culture and community.

• More than half grew up in Ohio.

• 72.7 percent said they are unlikely to return to Ohio in the next five years.

The study also determined that college internships are a major factor in retaining graduates.

According to the study, about half of the 144 responding businesses offered a total of 3,400 internships. At least half said they generally recruit potential employees through faculty and on-campus recruiting services.

One immediate result of the retention initiative is a new Web site introduced on Wednesday, The goal of the Web site is to foster networking between graduates and potential employers, and to share information about life in northeast Ohio.

Postcards about the Web site are being mailed to Chamber members in Akron and Canton this week.

For information call (330) 452-0829, or send e-mail to:

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