Photo credit: Ryan Callihan, Bradenton Herald

An assortment of local business leaders joined together at Ringling College of Art and Design Tuesday night to convince more than 130 students of one thing — to keep their talent here.

Mind the Gap, a networking event put on by Bright Ideas on the Gulf Coast (BIG) and the Cross College Alliance, brought students in contact with nearly 60 potential employers and allowed them the opportunity to ask questions about their future in the job market.

 The second annual meet-and-greet event was meant to demonstrate to businesses and students alike that there are opportunities in the area. Many business leaders said that there’s a disconnect between job-seekers and employers.

“Part of the challenge for us is that you don’t know that there are opportunities here,”
said Sharon Hillstrom, CEO of the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation

That divide leads to graduates leaving the area once they’ve gotten a degree from schools such as Ringling, New College of Florida, State College of Florida and University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee — which are all part of the Cross College Alliance.

But young professionals are willing to reach out. During a question and answer session, audience members peppered economic movers and shakers about the local job market.

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