[ULM political science professor John Sutherlin] said the loss of college students is a problem statewide, but particularly bad in northeastern Louisiana because of the loss of large employers in recent years and the type of jobs that are available.
"We're training them for jobs and careers that are viable, but they aren't viable in this part of the state," he said.
Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret said part of the problem is that the state's higher education system is better suited for a state like Massachusetts or California.
"We have a much more skills-based economy," Moret said. "I believe strongly that the dominant reason is that other states have had growing economies and Louisiana has had a stagnant economy." ...
... Louisiana is one of the few states in the country without a population data center. The state has a demographer, Karen Patterson, but [Shreveport demographer and political consultant Elliot Stonecipher] said he doesn't believe she has the resources to affect real change.
Stonecipher said a major re-write of the state's tax structure is needed to begin to draw people in and keep young people, but changing the structure would upset the existing population and be politically risky.
The first suggestion is to train college students for opportunities in that neck of the woods. That is industry-centric workforce development in a nutshell. Prepare locals for local jobs. The approach is popular across the board, but does a grave disservice to the students. This labor mobility framework is out-dated.
The second suggestion is to attract the kind of employers that match the higher education training available. But putting all your eggs in one or two baskets puts your graduates at risk for the inevitable bust part of the economic cycle. That's what happened to Pittsburgh and Youngstown, along with a number of other Rust Belt cities. However, Pittsburgh did well to train its young adults for jobs that might not be located all that close to home. In the long run, that approach paid off handsomely.
The last suggestion is the tired libertarian refrain, tax-induced migration. The explanatory power of the lower tax narrative is fine for intra-regional (i.e. local) geographic mobility. Louisiana isn't going to steal talent from California or Massachusetts because it is relatively more pro-business. The pink steer in the corner is Texas. I'd bet that Louisiana schools provide a wonderful service to Texas employers. When it comes to attracting workers, Louisiana isn't going to out-muscle Texas. When it comes to diaspora networks, few states (if any) can rival that of Louisiana.
Help Brady Middleton succeed, regardless of location.