Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Let's Brainstorm About How to Stop the Student Exodus

Sunday's Globe column focused on why Massachusetts needs more initiatives to retain the students who come here to get smarter. From the piece:

    Convincing more newly minted grads to build their careers here isn't just about helping Massachusetts add more taxpayers and end a pathetic streak of losing population in the 25-to-34 age bracket. It's about bringing new ideas and energy to our established business giants (think Raytheon, Fidelity, and Biogen Idec) and supporting young entrepreneurs who want to start businesses of their own.

    The West Coast, unfortunately, has done a much better job of taking new entrepreneurs seriously over the past two decades. Google, Yahoo, and Facebook were all founded by sharp-but-unproven whippersnappers. Here, iRobot Corp. is the only significantly sized company to have been started and run by recent grads.

I offered up seven ideas, free for the taking (or the adapting), which I think could move the needle. But I'm sure there are at least 70 other good ones.

I've been getting lots of e-mail about yesterday's column ... some of it explaining that Massachusetts high cost of living drives students away (um, have you ever tried to rent an apartment in Palo Alto?) ... some of it explaining that the state's anti-business attitude does it ... some blaming too much traffic. But what if we stopping trying to find things to blame and simply started reaching out to students, helping get them connected to the business community?

Here's the video that accompanies the column -- an interview with Harvard student Travis May about his company, StudentBusinesses.com, and student entrepreneurship in general:

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