Comeback Town: Not even Nick Saban can solve this problem in Alabama

BackCity give voice to the people of Birmingham and Alabama.

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Nick Saban had a profound impact on the University of Alabama and our state.

The hiring of Coach Saban will likely go down as one of the best hiring decisions in college athletic history.

Who could have predicted that the University of Alabama would eventually follow Coach Bear Bryant, possibly the greatest college football coach of his time, with another football coach who could be the greatest college football coach of all the temperature ?

Coach Saban led the Alabama Crimson Tide to the BCS and AP National Championships in 2009, 2011, 2012 and the College Football Playoff Championships in 2015, 2017, and 2020. He has won seven national titles as a head coach, the most in college football history.

People all over the United States, whether football fans or not, know the name “Saban” and associate it with the University of Alabama and the State of Alabama.

Its impact on the number of students at the University of Alabama was profound.

In 2006, registration at the U of A has been 23,878. The university now has 38,320 students – an increase of more than 60% with 58% of its undergraduate students from out of state.

You would think that many of these young men and women would enjoy their experience in Alabama and want to build their careers here.

However, our state loses the vast majority of those U of A graduates.

Besides, 41% of Auburn’s undergraduates are from out of state and Alabama State is also losing the vast majority of those students.

And most people probably don’t know that 73% from Samford University in Birmingham, undergraduate students come from out of state. According to a recent analysis, between 2011 and 2021, only 18% of all their students whose home states were outside of Alabama decided to stay in Alabama employed or in graduate school after graduation.

Earlier this year, I attended a talk by Greg Barker, president of the Alabama Economic Development Partnership (EDPA). The EDPA is a private, nonprofit organization committed to Alabama’s economic growth.

During the question and answer portion of his speech, an audience member asked, “What’s the biggest obstacle to the state of Alabama from an economic development perspective?”

Barker replied: “The biggest challenge by far is work. What is second is far from it. But labor is the biggest problem – labor of all kinds. Mainly having a well-prepared workforce here in Alabama is a challenge.

Good, you have it now.

A shortage of well-prepared labor is by far Alabama’s biggest economic development problem and our colleges and universities bring these students to our state and then prepare them to build their careers outside of the state.

Coach Saban is certainly doing his part in creating the best college recruiting program in America.

But he is not responsible for keeping our young people here.

It is our responsibility.

Nick Saban wins rookies and national championships with focus on ‘the process.’

We need to develop a coordinated strategy treat to retain our well-trained talents to avoid losing them to our competitors.

David Sher is the founder and publisher of BackCity. He has served as Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham) and the City Action Partnership (CAP).

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