The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation is working with organizations in Wisconsin to help “attract and retain” young professionals.
The initiative is designed to showcase Wisconsin as a destination for millennials as well as to retain some of the talent currently in the state, Rebecca Deshane, legislative liaison for the WEDC, said.
“I think it really is a collective effort to get on that national spotlight,” Deshane said. “It’s not trying to compete with the Austin’s of the world, because we can’t be Austin, but really doing as good a job as we can to promote the assets we do have here in Wisconsin.”
The initiative will be launched with Young Professionals Week in April. YPWeek is based off of a successful program from NEWaukee, a young professional organization based in Milwaukee. YPWeek seeks to help design events that will showcase Wisconsin as a destination for Young Professionals, Deshane said. This YPWeek will be the first statewide event, and cities including Madison and Green Bay will be participating.
Rita DeMerit, project manager for NEWaukee, said Wisconsin has an issue with “talent flight” regarding young professionals. DeMerit said many people come to Wisconsin to get their degree, but then leave to bigger cities like Chicago or New York after they graduate. DeMerit said the goal is to get Wisconsin recognized as a place millennials want careers.
“Wisconsin isn’t the most glamorous state,” DeMerit said. “People don’t know much about Wisconsin at all if they aren’t from here. We need to showcase the organizations that are already here and showcase the state’s assets and the initiatives being done for young professionals.”
Nia Trammell, president of Urban League of Greater Madison Young Professionals, said their organization’s purpose is to serve underrepresented minority populations in Madison, as well as support the initiative of the Urban League through volunteering and philanthropy. Trammell said their organization has made an impact while attending national conferences. She said they work to speak about what Madison has to offer in terms of growth advancement and the opportunity for millennials to be engaged.
The Urban League of Greater Madison hosts an Emerge Gala, which showcases how young professionals can be civic-minded and philanthropic. Trammell, who is a UW graduate, said Madison has been a great place for her as a young professional.
“I believe Madison has been a great opportunity for growth for me,” Trammell said. “So I think showcasing what we are doing exceptionally well in this city, and having that service would be a step in the right direction.”
Deshane said young professionals bring a new energy to the workforce, as well as offer different ideas on how to look at problems and identify solutions.
DeMerit said more should be done to attract young professionals. When it comes to public transportation, Wisconsin is behind compared to other cities and states, she said.
Deshane said Wisconsin needs young professionals to help businesses grow and expand in Wisconsin.
“There are great businesses to work for here, there [are] great communities to live in and be a part of and grow with,” Deshane said. “We need young professionals in Wisconsin.”