Has Our Region Failed Young Professionals?
Raucous rhetoric and amiable jabs marked the Tuesday launch of a new debate series hosted by SRQ Media Group, where two teams debated the question “Has our region failed our young professionals?” The SB2 Rumble, promised as an intellectual bloodsport, turned the Powel Crosley Estate into an academic wrestling ring before onlookers weighed in on who made the best case in the modified Oxford-style debate.
Criminal defense attorney Jacob Grollman, of Glen and Hibbert, who led the team arguing the region has failed young professionals, argued that regional failures extended much further. “We continue to discuss this problem but nobody offers any solution,” he argued. He noted home prices since the recession have skyrocketed up to $242,000 even though average annual wages here run around $28,000, or $2,000 less than the national average. Jag Grewal, a broker with Ian Black Real Estate, added that county leaders failed to attract North American Roofing for petty reasons, giving up a chance for high-paying jobs. And Raymmar Tirado, chief disruption officer for Clear Idea Labs, suggested the exodus of Sarasota-trained college grads to other areas showed how badly the region has abandoned the needs of millennials. “All you have to do is ask a young person,” Tirado said. “They do not get involved because it is not advantageous to be involved."
But Frank Maggio, of Centennial Bank, suggested infrastructure has been in place for 15 years that empowers professionals, but that it’s on young people to become more engaged. “The community is doing what it can to attract and engage young professionals,” he said. “There are many of us that are actually doing something and influencing things.” Doug Grosso, a broker associate with Dwell Real Estate, said many millennials are living in the area—in their parents’ homes—and noted that the Sarasota-Bradenton market lags behind only Orlando and Dallas in terms of business development and job growth. Candice McElyea, owner of ThreeSixOh PR, noted many successful professionals today grew up in the region and chose to stay here because of the opportunities and quality of life. “The people I went to school with, everybody made a name for themselves,” she said.
This debate format allowed for a winner to be declared, based not just on the opinion of those in the room but on how opinion changed from before the event started until all discussion concluded. Who won the day? It seems, according to the Rumble crowd, the region HAS failed young professionals. The term arguing that motion moved a net 11 percent of the crowd to their side, while the team arguing against moved only a net 3 percent. But all agreed the question should be how to get to a point the question doesn’t reasonably get asked in the future.
Photo by Wyatt Kostygan: Raymmar Tirado argues why young people have been failed.