Danielle Stewart for Mayor of Beckley

Position Paper #4: Young Professionals Initiative

 

“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.”― Herman Melville

 

WVU Tech, Concord University, New River Community and Technical College, and our other institutes of higher education send hundreds of college graduates out into the work force each May. Some graduates will find easy employment – most out of state and away from Beckley. Some will not find a good job so easily, get frustrated, and leave as well.

 

Imagine a Beckley where our young professionals choose to stay. A place where our young professionals can find a good paying job with opportunities for advancement. A place where they live in a nice house that rejuvenates an entire neighborhood. A place where they are supported, mentored, and encouraged to develop into the next generation of leaders in our community. This is the goal of the Young Professionals Initiative.

 

I want to work with the Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce, and other community businesses, to identify 10 professional jobs every year. These jobs would offer a minimum salary of $40,000/year with full benefits and are guaranteed for three years. This salary range is enough for a young professional to afford a house payment, car payment, student loan payment, and the other expenses of life.

 

I want to work with our local realtors and construction companies to identify 10 dilapidated houses in Beckley for rehabilitation. The city will coordinate with local banks to provide guaranteed loans, first to our construction companies and then to our young professionals. I want to work with our local auto dealers and banks to provide low-interest guaranteed car loans.

 

I will coordinate with local business and community leaders to mentor our young professionals. Our young professionals will attend Leadership Beckley, the Citizens Police Academy, Community Emergency Response Team training, and other community based training that may become available. We will grow responsible young professionals.

 

Why would I pursue this initiative? Our city needs to retain and grow its population. Each of the ten individuals selected will likely get married to someone local; the 10 grow to 20. Each couple will likely have two children; those 20 couples now grow to 40 people. Do this for ten years and Beckley has a population growth of 400 individuals. In addition, the city will have 100 rehabilitated houses in 10 years.

 

It sounds like these young professionals are getting the deal of a lifetime and they are getting a great deal, but they are not the only winners in this initiative. The business that hires the young professional wins as the business gets an employee they know will stay with them for at least three years (though there will be options for termination for poor performance or improper behavior). Our local real estate agencies win by finding and selling 10 more houses, each in need of rehabilitation. Our construction companies win by rehabilitating and reselling 10 houses each year to the young professionals. Our local banks win as they originate and service 20 guaranteed loans a year (home and auto loans). Our local car dealerships win by selling 10 additional cars a year. Neighborhoods win as dilapidated houses are rehabilitated and lived in by families for years. And the list of winners continue: insurance agents, financial advisers, schools, utilities, etc. This is a win – win – win for all.

 

And the best part? The cost to the city is $0. Well, that might not be exactly right but it also isn’t exactly wrong. What the city does is assumes the risk of all partners involved. If everything goes well then the city pays nothing. The city guarantees the loans of the construction companies and the young professionals. If the young professional does not make their house and car payments, the house and car are repossessed by the bank just like they would be for the rest of us. The house and car would then be resold and the city only pays the difference between the sale price of the house and car and the loan amount. Considering that house values tend to increase, we still may pay nothing.

 

There are no losers in this initiative, just a lot of people and businesses with the opportunity to make our city better. This initiative can be a model that helps other individuals and businesses as well. The only thing missing is a leader willing to bring everyone together and take limited risks to make Beckley better. I am that leader.