Victoria recently earned a place among 14 other small cities as one of the best in the nation for recent college graduates, and that’s no surprise to University of Houston-Victoria alumnus Oscar Torres.
“I love Victoria,” Torres said. “I’ve lived here all my life, and I’ve watched it grow with all kinds of new businesses and entertainment options, and I especially love how the community supports UHV and higher education.”
OnlineDegrees.com recently published its “Best Small Cities for New Grads” list, and Victoria was 15th out of 159 small cities across the nation. Including Victoria, there were five Texas cities in the top 15.
The website ranked cities with populations between 50,000 and 150,000 using seven criteria: median monthly rent, percent of housing units rented vs. owned, percent of the population between 20 and 34 years old, median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders, arts and entertainment options, state job growth projections and metro area unemployment rate.
Victoria’s inclusion in the list is a rewarding acknowledgement of the city’s efforts to expand and diversify its economy, said O.C. Garza, director of communications for the City of Victoria. Victoria has many career options including oil field, manufacturing, science and technology, retail, government and small business opportunities.
“When UHV expanded to include freshmen and sophomores in 2010, the community reacted by growing to meet the needs of the new population of students,” Garza said. “We’ve had lots of businesses pop up in the area, including a new Wal-Mart and a stream of new restaurants.”
In addition to the new businesses, Victoria and the surrounding communities offer numerous festivals and events. Victoria has Bootfest, the Victoria TX Indie Film Fest, Comic Con, Jam Fest, Victoria Bach Festival, a food truck festival, and outdoor concerts and movie nights. All of these events are partially aimed at attracting college students and those in a similar age group, Garza said.
“Even our long-standing performing arts organization are gearing events toward college-age students,” he said. “We’ve seen an increase in students at UHV since it added freshmen and sophomores, and we want to encourage them to stay in Victoria after graduation.”
In addition, the city has outdoor activities such as kayaking, bicycling and nature trails. There also are entertainment and gaming options, including laser tag and the new Outlaw Pass family fun park.
Torres graduated from UHV in May 2015 with a Bachelor of Business Administration in management and now works for the university as a student recruitment coordinator. Every day, he works to bring more students to UHV who could make Victoria their permanent home after graduation.
In addition to talking about the entertainment and employment opportunities, Torres points to the city and surrounding area’s history and how students can become a part of history themselves at UHV.
“Our students have the opportunity to start and be part of new clubs and organizations that could last for decades after they graduate,” Torres said. “I always tell students that the best investment they can make is in themselves. You can lose material things, but no one can take away your education and achievements. UHV is fortunate because it is part of a community that supports that and invests in our institution and our students.”