By Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson |
One of my main priorities as mayor is to advance economic development and job growth right here in Riverside. This city is already home to a diverse and talented workforce that spans multiple industries and job sectors.
Much of that talent can be attributed to our increasingly growing recent graduate population. An analysis by Bloomberg in 2016 found that the Riverside metro area retains 70.6% of four-year college graduates. While these figures have surely shifted over the past few years, the numbers are still encouraging, and we can build off that research to provide updated figures that provide a clearer picture of where we stand. However, we do not have to wait for further research to know that a major component to unlocking our economic development potential will be through the retention and development of our student and recent graduate population.
Riverside currently houses four major collegiate institutions, enrolling a total number of 71,100 students for this academic school year. Not only is this a huge opportunity to provide our students with the tools and resources necessary to succeed, but this is also a chance to showcase the spectacular perks that the City of Riverside has to offer.
During my tenure as mayor, we have continued to do what we do best. We listened. And after listening to the concerns from students and young adults, we realized that an unaddressed challenge confronting the city is the lack of resources that help students and recent graduates enjoy their Riverside experience, connect with their peers, find job and internship opportunities, and encourage them to keep living here after graduation. To solve this challenge, we turned to a program called Campus Philly, based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that addresses this challenge with a one-stop-shop for all things that recent graduates and upcoming graduates could use to incentivize them to stay local and plant roots in the city they received their education.
As a local government, we have simply not done enough to connect our youth population with the exciting activities, entertaining amenities, restaurants, and jobs that already exist here. And until now, we have not developed an initiative that harnesses those assets – and our youth population – to expand on what we have to offer in this city.
So, because of the success of Campus Philly, my office is proud to launch our own citywide college retention program: Campus Riverside. This initiative will provide a centralized platform for students to become acquainted with all the great and fun things that Riverside has to offer. With Campus Riverside, we will connect students with each other from across our collegiate institutions. We will organize various events that highlight Riverside’s best recreational locations. And by partnering with local businesses and Shop Riverside, Campus Riverside will be providing students with discounts at their favorite locations. To do this, students and recent graduates will simply search on our website at campusriverside.com. By clicking on the explore tab, users will be able to discover things do in Riverside, local food places that offer student discounts, upcoming events, and much more!
Furthermore, we want to connect employers to even greater employees. How will we do that? Well, within the next few months, we will be implementing a job site portal on the website. By logging onto the website, students will be able to search for current job and internship openings – in the public and private sector – to begin or advance their professional careers within the Greater Riverside region.
As we work to grow Campus Riverside over the next several months, we will be guided by our full intention, which is to attract exciting companies to set up shop in Riverside. By coupling growing recreational activities with dream job opportunities, students will have more than enough reasons to stay in this great city.
I am confident that with Campus Riverside, students will finally have a helpful resource to explore, live, work, and thrive right here in Riverside.