“First, they open up markets in their home cities which facilitates trade, foreign direct investment and knowledge transfer. In addition, they infuse revenue into local communities, and they help fill demand for jobs requiring specific skills in local labor markets. Our business and community leaders need to develop better strategies that retain their talents after they graduate.”
Oklahoma City business leaders’ efforts to attract and retain college graduates — both foreign and domestic — are paying off, said Roy Williams, president and CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce.
The city’s workforce has grown increasingly diverse in the past decade as companies hire college graduates from across the country and around the world, Williams said.
“It’s because they are trying to get the brightest and the best,” he said.
“Diversity is important. The more diverse, the more accepting and the more interesting,” Williams said.
Workers from other countries bring different values, different ideas and different approaches to a business, he said, and they make the community “a more exciting place.”
Oklahoma universities do a good job of recruiting foreign students, who are attracted by the “very reasonably priced tuition,” Williams said.
It’s up to business leaders to recruit those students to stay after they graduate, he said. Some larger companies have immigration attorneys to help with the legal process.
The chamber’s Greater Grads program connects Oklahoma college graduates with employers in the Oklahoma City region looking to fill permanent positions or internships.
Internships are a great way to get foreign students off the campus and expose them to the community, Williams said.
“They connect with other young professionals so they can picture themselves living here, and not just working here,” he said.
“Young people tend to go where they want to live and then look for a job,” Williams said. “They are coming from all over.”
Amenities like MAPS improvements and having an NBA team are important to the urban lifestyle they are looking for, he said.
“What is exciting is the trend continues to trend up.”
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