JACKSON — A vision to aid in recruiting and retaining young newcomers to the Jackson area’s current and future workforce is prompting the formation of Jackson Area Young Professionals Network.
Organizers officially launched the network last month and drew nearly 40 young professionals from a variety of Jackson-area businesses.
The group will continue to host monthly socials during fall through spring on the second Tuesday of each month at a different location in Jackson. The next social begins at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 12 at the Jackson American Legion, 411 First St. The social is scheduled through 6:30 p.m., but attendees are welcome to stay later.
Tom Nelson, the city’s contracted economic development coordinator, said the inspiration for the JAYPN came from area employers, who questioned how the city’s economic development office may help retain young professionals.
As someone familiar with other YPN organizations in the region, Nelson said he’s seen how the group can be beneficial.
“It’s harder for people to organically meet in town,” Nelson said. “I’m trying to create an environment where they can meet other people and then have organic things happen afterward.”
Molly Fransen, an ag and commercial lender at Bank Midwest who is helping get the JAYPN off and running, understands firsthand what it’s like trying to meet others after uprooting to a new community.
“I think it’s really good to have it because when I moved to town — meeting other people my age that were just coming into the workforce in Jackson — it was really hard to meet people,” said Fransen, who has considered Jackson home for the past decade. “(The young professionals) creates a platform for people to network and meet other people, make friendships, connections in the workplace and get invested in Jackson and want to stay here, work here and live here.”
Nelson said the organization is intended for young professionals in their 20s and 30s, because it's that age group that's generally moving into town and experiencing more difficulty meeting and connecting with others.
“I joke around and say that if you self-identify as a young professional, we’re not going to check IDs at the door,” Nelson said, adding that young professionals that live in other communities across the region are welcome to attend.
While the focus of the organization is currently centered on monthly social networking events, Nelson said there may be other opportunities for JAYPN to get involved in the community in the future as the organization evolves.
There are opportunities for attendees to help shape the future direction of the organization, as they may complete a survey administered by Nelson during an upcoming networking event.
Future networking events will be shared on the JAYPN Facebook page.