The Chairman of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce recently stated, “We have to reach out to youth and let them know that there is a seat for them at the table as well.” The political landscape of Montgomery is changing, and seems to now be embracing a more diverse and progressive agenda. A big part of this agenda needs to include implementing more efforts to retain the young talent that has been acquired and developed through the local colleges and universities. City leadership has openly expressed the issues with retention, but there is significant room for improvement in regards to programming that involves students while they are enrolled at the undergraduate level.
I came to Montgomery back in 2012, when Alabama State University offered me an Academic Excellence Scholarship. During my matriculation over the next three years, I was able to connect with high level city and state officials such as retired Judge Charles Price, Judge J.R. Gaines, former Alabama House of Representative John F. Knight, former Alabama Senator Dr. Quinton Ross Jr., Mayor Todd Strange, and host of other individuals that opened doors of opportunity for me. Making those connections as a college student made all the difference in why I chose to move back after I completed law school and passed the bar. Bringing young people into the sphere of influence early on will only build loyalty and bridge gaps. This should happen as often as possible!
Montgomery is growing and young energy can help sustain that growth. Possibilities for the future become endless when you create career opportunities with competitive salaries to recent college graduates coming into the workforce. On January 15, 2019, I became the newest attorney with The Vance Law Firm, which is a Montgomery based personal injury firm. Ideally, the small business community can be a driving force in the movement to keep other recent graduates in the capital city, or in cases like mine, bring them back.
Fresh faces, new ideas, and different perspectives should be the core of any city that plans to cultivate young minds. In order to stay ahead of the curve, young people must be offered key leadership roles and granted decision-making ability. On the other hand, the onus is also on college students and young professionals to work with one another, create pathways, and hold themselves accountable to do their part. It is equally as imperative for them to reach out to city leadership and be actively involved in city lead events and meeting.
It is impossible for a city like Montgomery to ever reach its fullest potential unless young people are included, accepted, and engaged. More strategic attempts must be made to keep the brilliant young minds that come to Montgomery for college here long after they graduate. Next time that soon-to-be college graduate wants to have lunch with you, make it a point to attend. When there is a job opening that you are made aware of, have a young person in mind that you can recommend and make the recommendation. If there is an opening on your platform, invite a young newcomer to participate. The future of Montgomery depends on it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brandon Price-Crum is an attorney at law with The Vance Law Firm, real estate agent with Keller Williams Montgomery, and adjunct instructor at Alabama State University. Send emails to FutureofMontgomery@gmail.com or call (334) 245-7700.
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