Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner tried an innovative approach to find out why young adults leave the city. In a move to plug the "brain drain," as the phenomenon is known, he collaborated with local high schools to survey graduates who have relocated, only to find out what most of us already know: People leave to find jobs.
Before the city can unveil a campaign to give young Toledoans reasons to stay, the job market must improve. In the responses to the 13,000 surveys mailed to graduates from public, parochial, and private high schools from 1995 to 2005, the inability to find work here was cited most frequently.
That's an unfortunate commentary on Toledo's job market. The automobile industry has been good to this region, and while there still are auto-related jobs here, high-tech jobs keep the economy turning. As Toledo tries to bring in those jobs, some cities that already have them hire young adults from cities like Toledo.
There were other concerns, such as a lack of an engaging social life. That seems a stretch, however; Toledo hardly lacks for things to do. A lack of diversity was also mentioned and should be taken seriously. Minorities are represented in many fields, but more progress will come. America's most successful communities embrace diversity and benefit greatly from it.
There's another side to the brain drain business that's not unique to Toledo. When young people graduate, many want to move away, stretch their wings, no matter where they grow up. That's normal. What Toledo needs to do is convince more of them to one day return, as well as attract our share of newcomers from elsewhere.
We can learn from transplants whose experiences add to this region. Toledoans most excited about their city are often people who've come here from somewhere else.
They already recognize that Toledo is a great place to live. We've got to work harder to help those who don't.