WF Chamber of Commerce working to retain college grads

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce is looking to add graduates from Midwestern State University and Vernon College to the city's workforce.

In order to do so, Henry Florsheim, the chamber's CEO, said they need to retain them first.

Dirk Welch, MSU Director of Career Management, told Newschannel 6 in a statement the university has seen an increase in students from the metroplex area and a decrease in students from Wichita County, in the last five years. He said around 31 percent of students are from Wichita County.

"As we work with students, we often hear from them that they would like to obtain work 'back home,'" Welch said.

"If I have an opportunity to stay here, I will," Dareem Antoine, an MSU economics and math major said. Antoine is an international student from Grenada. He said he would like to work in Wichita Falls as a business analyst after graduation but is having trouble finding work in the city.

"I'm not seeing many jobs open in those positions however I'm still searching," Antoine said.

There are other seniors planning to graduate who said they have the same problem, finding jobs in the city for their career choice.

"Detroit is known for manufacturing and that's where I want to be," Dulanga Dealwis, an MSU mechanical engineering major said. "The facilities I need wouldn't be here as in to pursue my dream job."

Florsheim said to lose these graduates would hurt the city.

"This community is short on all its workforce," Florsheim said. He said to keep them, the Chamber launched Wichita Falls Talent Partnership which is made up of Wichita Falls ISD, MSU, Vernon College, Workforce Solutions and the city to get students involved with businesses.

"All the way through students education there's going to be a connection back to the business community," Florsheim said.

Florsheim said Vernon College has helped the workforce since the majority of students are from Texoma who stay after graduation, like Cherrina Gossett who is studying to become a licensed vocational nurse (LVN).

"There's a lot of long-term care facilities here and there's a shortage of nursing in the long-time care facilities," Gossett said. "The geriatric population is growing so rapidly so we really need help with that."

Florsheim said renovating downtown to give graduates a quality living environment might convince them to stay. Wichita Falls voters are considering a $22 million dollar boost to the downtown area.

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