MARCH 16, 2006

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Downtown College Consortium to help Chamber combat state’s 'brain drain'

The Downtown College Consortium will partner with the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber to help implement the Chamber’s Greater Grads Program, a comprehensive strategy developed to address Oklahoma’s loss of college graduates to surrounding states.

Part of Forward Oklahoma City III, the Chamber’s next five-year economic development plan, Greater Grads is designed to develop, retain and recruit tomorrow’s talent. The Consortium will implement the Summer Internship component of Greater Grads, which will match students with prospective employers throughout the state.

Gary Davidson, director of the Downtown College Consortium, said nearly 5,000 college graduates left Oklahoma last year alone.

“The Summer Internship Program will be a great opportunity for our college students to network with professionals in their area of study, and provide a link to the business community and area colleges and universities,” said Davidson.

Davidson said they plan to recruit 150 to 250 student interns in the first year. With the Chamber’s help, they will also involve approximately 50 businesses.

The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education awarded the Consortium $100,000 for the project late last year.

Davidson said the funds will be used to hire a coordinator, and to implement a series of six training events for the interns that will provide them with valuable job training skills and showcase Oklahoma City’s quality of life.

After the first year, the Chamber will provide long-term funding to sustain and expand the project.

“Our ultimate goal, at the end of the day, is to have our graduates stay in Oklahoma,” said Davidson. “It is vital that we have a pipeline of talent for our economic development initiatives to succeed.”

The Downtown College Consortium consists of five member institutions: Oklahoma City Community College, Oklahoma State University – Oklahoma City, Redlands Community College, Rose State College and the University of Central Oklahoma.

Contact: Jessica Martinez-Brooks, OCCC media relations coordinator, 1.405.682.7590