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Roseburg: A Place For Young People to Flourish

12:08 AM · May 17, 2022

I was asked the other day if there was one thing I could change about our area what would it be. I said I want to see Roseburg become a place that facilitates the retention and the flourishing of our young people. We’ve been doing a poor job of this for the last several decades. In my opinion, we expend lots of our efforts in educating our kids but stop short of preparing them for actual jobs. They leave and get that final training elsewhere and don't return. The loss of these youth, our most valuable resource, is enormous. Yes, it’s awesome when they become wildly successful in other communities around the country, but you know what’s even better? If we figured out how to make them wildly successful here so the community itself would receive the full reward of raising exceptional young people! We lose their creativity, their problem-solving, and their fresh perspective. We lose our entrepreneurs who go out and start companies elsewhere. We lose many of our brightest minds who uniquely understand and love this area and who would be best suited to spending their career making it a better place for future generations. So what can we do? Here are a few things I’m convinced we need to do differently. Schools - We need to start investing in our schools so they are better next year, better in 5 years and 10 years than they are today. Putting new coats of paint on extremely old buildings isn’t going to do that. We need to step up and start tackling some of the infrastructure issues we’ve put off for far too long. We need to pass the school bond, plain and simple. Besides people thinking about making Roseburg home, you know who feels the lack of investment in our schools the most? The students, right when they are considering where they want to live and work and have families. Job force training - If we want to retain more of our youth, and help local companies flourish, we need to help our students learn job-ready skills and facilitate more internships with local companies. There are an enormous amount of job openings at local companies and I believe our local students can eventually fill those positions. Our Roseburg School District Superintendent Jared Cordon and UCC President Dr. Rachel Pokrandt are working closely to create more synergy in these areas for local students. We are very fortunate to have them. Invest in our entrepreneurs - I’ve always thought it’s funny how much work we put into luring companies to this area, and how little work we do to retain our brightest entrepreneurs. We invest in the students in Grades 1-12, but are we spending any effort identifying and supporting kids who want to build companies here? When they succeed, those companies will create jobs and become a significant source of strength in the community. I’m doing this with my 16-year-old son, who’s a software developer. We’re building a software company and we want to headquarter it here in Roseburg. I want my son to be able to stay in Roseburg and help grow our local software industry. Athletic Facilities - I graduated in 1999 and we had no turf soccer fields here in Roseburg. Two decades later and we now have one at the high school. Meanwhile, other communities have 10 times that many, and because of it they become attractive places to live for families with kids in sports. They also receive the significant benefit of hosting large tournaments throughout the year. Our school bond includes two more turf fields, and the City of Roseburg has recently applied for a large grant that could bring another couple of fields. We need to get these things built. They might seem insignificant, but I believe they have far more impact than we understand. Lastly, we need to become optimistic for Roseburg. Our community is incredibly optimistic about our students, but we need that optimism to spill over to the community itself. Parents, teachers, coaches, and business owners need to believe things are going to get better here and when that happens it’s communicated very loudly to our local youth. I’m excited about the momentum building right now in Roseburg. There are a lot of volunteers and community members working hard behind the scenes to find ways to help. Long-term success however is a team sport, and it’s going take the whole community working together to change our trajectory. I’m confident we can do it.

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