I read Joel’s story today about Shreveport losing it’s young professional population and I wasn’t surprised at all. Saddened a little, but not surprised. I also read the comments and everyone has their opinions about why the city is losing, well, us. But at the end of the day, I’m anxious to see what the city is going to do about it.
When I left for college in New Orleans, I thought I’d never come back. Period. A combination of chance and circumstance blew that plan out of the water. Yet, during this time back, I’ve discovered there are some good things about this city. However, it’s always seemed like a city of potential – unfulfilled. There’s so much more left to be desired and in my opinion, it starts with career opportunities.
As a native who reluctantly returned home six years ago, I remember hearing about a campaign at the time to bring the younguns home, but I don’t remember ever hearing or even seeing much beyond the talk. Even as my high school class plans our 10-year reunion, I’ve skimmed through the names and pics of former classmates and saw that a good chunk of the folks in the list, now reside in other cities across the country.
I feel like the guy in Joel’s story (and fellow Dillard University grad) Franklin Whitaker stated the problem best:
"I would have loved to come back home," said Whitaker, 27, a personal banker for JP Morgan Chase who lives in the Dallas suburb Lancaster. "But I never got that chance. Shreveport has jobs, but it does not have career opportunities, which is a big difference."
This problem is nothing new to us. So what is Shreveport going to do about it? Actually make substantial, significant changes and improvements to make Shreveport the next great city of the South? Or just sit here in denial and watch the population erosion worsen for another decade?
Folks have talked and talked and talked and talked about it ad nauseum, but what are the city’s leaders going to DO about it? For those who have left what would it take to get you to come back? And for those of us still here, what would it take for you to stay?