By Ken Springer
Published September 9, 2021 in The Burg
Our community’s economic and cultural vitality is at the forefront of our citizen’s lives. Having two collegiate institutions, stable major employers, strong community amenities and plenty of job openings should be sufficient to attract and retain population.
Yet for the fourth straight decade, Knox County has shown a population decline per the US Census Bureau. As more of our region’s population retires or moves on from their roles in our community, it is left to new faces to step into those roles and to propel Knox County forward. The newly-emerged Young Professionals Network (YPN) is a great place to look for this new leadership.
YPN was created in early 2021 with fresh ideas, new faces and new energy. With the help of the Galesburg Chamber of Commerce, the group’s leadership chose to focus YPN around development and networking within the Knox County region. The group was founded on the basis of inclusivity, diversity and willingness to get involved. YPN is comprised of elected officials, lawyers, nonprofit professionals and board members, and young way-makers alike. What unites this group is their positive attitude towards the community and desire to lead.
YPN holds one social meeting and one developmental meeting per month. Members not only network with other young, driven individuals but also learn and develop their own professional “toolbelts.” It is my belief that companies in our region should seriously consider membership for their young employees. There are few other options in the community where young employees can build close-knit ties to the community, get quality professional development and learn to be leaders within the community. Further, it has been shown time and again that the key to retaining young team members is to make sure that they are happy and engaged with their community.
So far this year, YPN has undertaken a variety of social, networking and professional development events. The group has been to Iron Spike for trivia, Hidden Hills Winery for a mixer, Beaver’s Teeth Axe Throwing, The Downtown Escape Room and Yoga in the Park with Alyssa Pacheco. They have also participated in LGBTQ training with Rain Garant, Mental Health Awareness training with Jessica Donaldson, toured the Mobile Museum of Tolerance and also have undertaken career coaching. In September, YPN will be attending a Cooking Class with Angelica Mangieri and attending Abby Colvin’s presentation on Professional Personalities.
If this sounds like an opportunity your employees could benefit from, the Young Professionals Network is currently accepting applications for new membership. Membership costs just $15 annually if you are employed by a Galesburg Chamber of Commerce member and $25 per year for non-Chamber members.