Citizen Wausau

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Attracting Young Professionals

by on August 23rd, 2010

Recently the Wausau Daily Herald ran a short story about how Wausau can attract and retain young professionals. It’s home to numerous biking/walking trails, one of the states most scenic state parks and a world-class whitewater kayak course.  These are just some of the attributes, but is that enough to attract young & talented job seekers?

I believe bringing in high-tech industry is the biggest factor in attracting young talent to any city.  The job sectors have to be cutting edge and white collar.  The industrial sector is slowly grinding to a halt in this country. I am not against heavy industry; the fact is that society is switching from a manufacturing-based economy to a information-based economy.  Information is what will drive our economy into the future.

Wausau is a city heavily built around manufacturing.  It was a natural heavy-industry hub ever since the days of its inception with the Wisconsin River that runs through town providing an ideal logging route.

Eau Claire, which is located 85 miles west of Wausau, is adding jobs in the IT field.  They will add over 200 jobs by attracting a New York based company by the name of Genesis10.  That’s just one firm they have lured in with more to surely follow suit.  Eau Claire is a popular place for young professionals and it really isn’t that far off in culture and feel from Wausau.

Bottom line?  Add well paying high-tech jobs.

Young professionals are very active.  They are either newly married or on the prowl for a partner.  They like to get out and explore what their new city has to offer.  They would be looking for up-scale wine/cocktail bars, clubs, coffee shops, gyms, cultural events and live music.  There should be an adequate selection of these kinds activities.  Having these events in a “downtown district” is even more attractive to young professionals as it provides a “closeness” to their community of peers.

Young professionals want to feel connected to their community and their fellow peers as I hinted above.  They like networking with others their age to find opportunities they feel could allow them to advance their career.  This links back to having recreational areas like bars and nightlife downtown.  Having events sponsored by businesses and/or the city will fuel networking.  Have tweet-ups and wine tastings, conferences and seminars focused around the new tech jobs in your area.  Young professionals want to advance their professional lives in addition to their personal lives.

I’m in this very situation myself.  I graduate in less than 12 months from the University of Wisconsin-Stout with a very strong resume and super-relevant experience.  From launching social media platforms on-campus, being appointed to numerous committees to shape the future of the university, and being featured in books about digital crisis communications and social media. I feel I can compete in large markets like Minneapolis, New York City and San Francisco. However, I don’t mind my hometown one bit.  My family is here, and some of my longest friends.  The real question is; does Wausau have the desire and career opportunity to lure a talented “hometown kid” to stay put?  I just don’t know yet.

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