Best and Brightest Initiative brings young professionals to Decatur

Best and Brightest Initiative brings young professionals to Decatur
Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 8:02 PM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The River City is attracting young professionals to be a part of local STEM businesses with its Best and Brightest Initiative.

This program allows recent college graduates to invest in their careers without using all of their money to pay off student loans. The company gives $3,000 to help pay back student loans each year.

Here’s how it works: the person must be a STEM graduate, live within the city limits of Decatur and must have a job.

They can work at any location and the program provides a maximum of $15,000 to help pay off student loans. John Joseph, the director of the program says it’s a win-win situation because Decatur needs more young professionals.

“The best way to attract young people is to have young people,” Joseph said. “We’re seeing more people moving here, we’re seeing more people wanting to stay here. We’re really excited, this is a good time for this program.”

There are currently 33 people in the program with plans to expand to other careers beyond STEM. The Best and Brightest has university partnerships across the state, bringing in members like Michael Buchanan, who says this program allowed him to make a necessary purchase.

“I was able to buy a house kind of right out of the get-go, knowing that I didn’t have student loans to pay off,” Buchanan said. “I could have some extra money in my pocket to pay towards a house.”

Joseph added that his favorite thing about this program is that it is a family. Members lean on each other for friendships and guidance in their lives and careers.

Buchanan shares that he is from Decatur and decided to move back because of the Best and Brightest, which has given him a boost in his career and lifelong friendships.

“I didn’t have many friends to come back to, but with this group has allowed me to meet some really fun people that I hang out with now,” Buchanan said. “Some of my closest friends are from, maybe not this group, but a connection I’ve made because of this group.”

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