When I picked up Friday’s paper and saw the headline Many in region seek to reverse ‘brain drain’ with a photo of a young black man I said, “Here we go again” — until I turned the page and saw all the other faces of diverse South Floridians. What a relief and what a joy to see the business community coming together around this issue in a more holistic manner.
Almost 20 years ago, I co-founded an organization called the Black Executive Forum, part of the Batten Fellows Program. It was funded by the Knight Foundation, and the Miami Herald was a big supporter. Our mantra was the same: “Stop the brain drain,” except the focus was on African Americans. During the time the program was operational the retention rate was about 85 percent.
So here we are 18 years later, and the business community recognizes that we are losing young people from every ethnic group. I suspect that was the case 20 years ago. However, the flight of young African Americans to Atlanta and other places where they could build a real career and have a social life was significant enough that doing something about it became one of the goals of the Mandela boycott settlement.
Just as we have done an extraordinary job of building our cultural base with a world-class performing arts center and our focused investment in the visual and performing arts, we should be able to create a solid base of well-skilled professionals that will attract businesses to this community. Businesses we want to bring here will no longer have the excuse that we do not have a skilled talent pool and the young women and men who want to stay here can do so, contributing to the growth of our community.
Donna L. Ginn, Miami