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City in need of college seniors to stay in Pittsburgh

College seniors at the University of Pittsburgh, the Community College of Allegheny County, Point Park University, and Carnegie Mellon received an email last Tuesday from Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. In the email, Ravenstahl encouraged them to stay in Pittsburgh after graduation, highlighting that Pittsburgh has so much to offer young people, from available jobs to high quality of life and affordability.

If Ravenstahl and other city officials want to reinvigorate Pittsburgh by bringing in and keeping younger people, the benefits of living in the city need to be made clear to college students and other young adults.

Pittsburgh has received numerous accolades, such as being called the “most livable city” in the U.S. last year by the Economist Intelligence Unit, and being given the same title from Forbes.com in 2010.

However, what matters to college graduates now, during a recession, is job availability. For Carnegie Mellon students in particular, Pittsburgh lacks the reputation that other cities and regions have.

The 2011 Post Graduation Survey for the School of Computer Science shows 39 percent of computer science graduates going to California after graduation.

The post-graduation surveys of other Carnegie Mellon majors also show a significant amount of students leaving the mid-Atlantic region.

At the moment, Pittsburgh doesn’t carry the weight that Silicon Valley and Seattle have for the technology fields, nor does it boast the artistic reputations of New York City or Los Angeles.

But it deserves such recognition. Pittsburgh is becoming a hub for technology, medicine, and commerce. High-profile companies like Apple, Intel, and Microsoft that entice Carnegie Mellon graduates to go out west are interested in the Pittsburgh region, with Google being a notable example with its East Liberty location. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between March 2010 and March 2011, 5,300 jobs were created in Pittsburgh’s education and health services supersector alone.

What it comes down to is a need for Ravenstahl, Governor Tom Corbett, and other officials in the region to stress how the city is growing — not in numbers or awards, but by making college graduates aware of the opportunities for their careers are in Pittsburgh.

The city may be in the baby stages of significant growth and development, but such growth has to be facilitated by continuing to convince young people and families to reside in Pittsburgh.