Opportunity: Millennials can help shape West Virginia’s future

When national organizations release reports in which they make conclusions such as West Virginia being the “worst” state in the country for millennials, it prompts the question: Is there anything that can be done about it?

Millennials — no one can quite agree on their age range, but it’s somewhere between 15 and 35 — are under the impression there are no opportunities in the Mountain State; no reason to stay.

In fact, one WVU senior dramatically told a TV reporter who was following up on one of these studies, “I can’t stay here any longer. There are not many promising prospects for me.”

Here is the rub: There may be no promising prospects being handed to these people. It is true there is not much coming easy in West Virginia these days. But as another opinion writer noted on social media recently, there is no better place in the country for young people who are willing to work hard to change the world.

If most of the young people are leaving, and nearly one-quarter of residents will be over retirement age within the next five years, there is massive opportunity for young people with ideas, talent and, most importantly, work ethic. Even better if they have a sense of duty and loyalty to their home state.

Yes, the rest of us must absolutely answer the call to diversify the state’s economy; to make West Virginia a place in which companies want to do business. Meanwhile, the generation born between the early 1980s and early 2000s should be taking a hard look at itself. If West Virginia is not the kind of place in which they want to live and work, maybe it is time they stopped running away and wishing for change, and started making that change.

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