DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — A new initiative is working to keep graduates of Ohio universities and colleges in Ohio. State representatives said the G.R.O.W Act, introduced in Columbus on Monday, could help the state retain graduates and grow its workforce.

Kareem Jalanbo, a Wright State University junior majoring in computer science, received a $1,000 retention of talent scholarship from the Dayton workforce partnerships scholarship program in September.

“If I could find a job here in Dayton, where I was born and raised, it would be wonderful,” Jalanbo said when he received the award.

The G.R.O.W Act aims to improve the workforce by retaining STEM students like Jalanbo.

“Priority of Ohio should be investing in our future workforce,” said state representatives Jon Cross, R-Kenton during a press conference.

Cross said the legislation would allow for 100 $25,000 scholarships for students pursuing a career in STEM.

Steve Stivers, CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce said, “There are 318,000 employers in Ohio. Whether I’m talking to a big business or a small business, no matter the industry or the area, I’m hearing that workforce is their number one issue.”

The legislation would also offer businesses a tax credit for co-ops or internships, and offer students a tax credit for the taxes they would’ve paid the first three years out of college to stay in Ohio.

“It helps recruit out-of-state students to Ohio, not just any students, but the best and the brightest,” Stivers said.

University of Dayton President Eric Spina said he supports the proposed program. “If we want to drive innovation and economic development in Ohio, it is imperative we see this as law,” he said.

Ron Adler is the vice president of the Dayton Workforce Partnerships Scholarship Program. He said everyone has an obligation to drive innovation in the state.

“Everybody benefits,” Adler said. “When we do, the local community benefits in many ways, for example, when they buy a car when they pay taxes, and when they buy a home, the high school benefits and the college benefits.”

The program connects scholarship recipients to local businesses, internships, and eventually employment opportunities.