Talent Retention & Development

This post highlights the importance of Talent Retention & Development in our Richmond community and ecosystem. It covers the importance of retention and development, and offers programs, suggestions, and ideas on how we can improve retention and development. It also explains why we cannot engage in effective retention and development in a silo, and touches on other areas of our community and my platform that have an effect on it.


This week, I'd like to share some thoughts on Talent Retention & Development, and the role it plays in the Richmond ecosystem. Unity through community means not only retaining and developing talent, but providing equitable opportunities and paths for success for all members of our community.


  • The Richmond region graduates talent from at least nine post-secondary institutions, we should create programs, incentives, and amenities to retain that talent
  • In order to spur local economic growth through entrepreneurship and small business development, and increase our tax base, we must also improve public schools and engage in community development
  • Talent Retention & Development does not exist in a silo, part of the ecosystem is that we must work toward eliminating concentrated centers of poverty and food deserts, and increase after-school programs, parks, and accessible community amenities

Talent Retention

We can start by looking at Richmond and the post-secondary institutions that surround us: University of Richmond, VCU, VUU. Expanding to a more regional view, we also have VSU and Randolph-Macon. And we cannot leave out J. Sergeant Reynolds, John Tyler, or Richard Bland. On top of that, we also have vocational and trade schools, such as the Richmond Technical Center.

These institutions develop and graduate talent. We should work to retain that talent by offering local employers incentives for hiring local. We should also look at that talent and what their tastes and preferences are: to be in an urban environment, to have a healthy work-life balance, and to have access to outdoor amenities.

Those preferences mean we should also invest in expanded transportation options (such as bicycle infrastructure and bus services), expanded parks with accessibility at the core, a stronger urban tree canopy, and more community rec centers and gardens. (Note: I will cover this more in the "Economic & Community Development" post on 2020-08-31.)

This is important, because according to the 2005 study, The Young and Restless in a Knowledge Economy, "one of the strongest predictors of income growth in metro areas over the past decade is the level of education of the local population". The study also found that entrepreneurship is highest among 25 to 34 year-olds, and importantly, the older someone gets the less likely they are to move across state lines. Knowing this, we can create targeted incentive programs to encourage entrepreneurship and offer small business support.

As people grow older, they are less likely to move, and more likely to start families. Over time that translates to increased tax revenue for our city and for those who visit families. But we cannot retain talent let alone have that talent start families in our city if half of our public schools are not accredited. Talent retention goes hand-in-hand with community development and improving our public schools.

Talent Development

While we have a plethora of post-secondary institutions in our region, we must also develop talent and retain that talent in K-12. If we retain talent, we cannot move toward creating a perpetual growth machine for our community (or our tax revenues) if that talent engages in flight for the counties, because of the state of our public schools.

Talent development is something we must work on in our public schools, so we can set our youth up to be successful, to be the future community leaders of tomorrow. There has been a trend to push graduates toward college, on the thought of "if you don't go to college, you're a failure". As a college educator, that mentality is doing far more harm than good. A healthy community is a diverse community, and we should educate youth on all opportunities before them and let them decide what's in their best interest. That might mean being a small business entrepreneur, or going to a trade or vocational school to learn how to weld or become an electrician.

We cannot try to develop talent in public schools without considering the full range of issues students face. Simply throwing more money at our schools does not solve the root. We must ask ourselves, how engaged will students be if they don't know where their next meal will come from? What about the quality of food we provide our children at school? We should also expand after-school programs to give our youth something to look forward to. A few of the programs I'm proposing include "Field to Farm", re-purposing the police horses into an equestrian program, and the creation of a "Big Brother, Big Sister" program that links local entrepreneurs with our youth. (Note: I will cover these programs more in the "After-School Programs" post on 2020-09-14.)


As part of creating a healthy ecosystem, improving our tax base, and moving toward a perpetual growth machine, we must first retain our community talent from post-secondary institutions, as well as ensure we are developing talent in our public schools and providing pathways and opportunities for success. To do so, we must consider the full spectrum of issues faced by families and our youth in our city, and work to solve the root of those issues.

Next week, I'll continue to expand on our ecosystem by addressing Economic & Community Development.


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