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  • Writer's pictureCameron Cochran

Wilson 20/20 Eyes Challenge of Keeping Young Professionals

Posted February 17, 2016

By Rochelle Moore, Wilson Daily Times Staff Writer

Attracting and keeping young professionals in Wilson is a challenge Wilson 20/20 is studying closer as part of its Beyond 21 plan.

Beyond 21’s talent retention and attraction group is trying to figure out what motivates people to work in the area as well as contribute to the community as a whole.

The study group, led by Rodger Lentz, Wilson’s chief planning and development officer, and Gary Daynes, Barton College provost, has been busy working with a nonprofit in an effort to find out the interests of younger professionals, between the ages of 20 and 30.

Building the city’s talent pool is important, Lentz said.

“At the end of the day, it will lead to economic success and growth of our community,” Lentz said.

The city hired the nonprofit, Ecoland, which works to engage millennials to actively participate in the cultivation of the community in which they want to live. The talent retention and attraction group also plans to meet with area human resources personnel to determine what’s important in recruiting people to the area. Focus groups are also planned to offer additional insight.

The talent retention and attraction group is one of six working on Wilson 20/20’s Beyond 21 plan, a year-long project that will be presented during Wilson 20/20’s annual meeting in May. The other five groups include community leadership and civic engagement, health and wellness, the elderly and aging population, unemployment and underemployment and entrepreneurship.

Meagan Moss is a first-grade teacher at New Hope Elementary School.

The Beyond 21 plan is an outgrowth of the 2014 Youth Master Plan.

Plan, which received support and participation from nearly every sector of the community. Beyond 21 focuses on the needs of adults age 21 and older in Wilson County.

The talent retention and attraction group hopes to uncover what attracts people to Wilson, the emotional bond between new residents and the community and the importance of amenities such as quality schools, job opportunities, greenways and a thriving downtown.

The group’s goals are to have a more talented workforce, a growing population and genuine satisfaction and pride in the community.

“The things that attract and retain young workers are the same things that will help Wilson flourish in the future,” Daynes said. “So, as we as able to create the experiences and amenities that make the young feel welcome, Wilsonians of all ages will benefit.”

The group plans to develop four to five strategies that can be implemented locally. The strategies will be presented during Wilson 20/20’s annual meeting.

Paula Benson, Wilson 20/20 executive director, said the group’s efforts is another example of community partners working together.

“The team leaders from Barton College and the city of Wilson have provided opportunities for numerous community stakeholders to discuss the challenges of our local employers to recruit and retain the necessary talent base we need in Wilson,” Benson said. “Through the work of this team, we hope to develop strategies that will effectively market all the great aspects that already exist in our community while we also identify new ways to make us more competitive with surrounding areas.”

Wilson 20/20 Community Vision is a collaboration of all major entities in the community, including government, health care, economic development, business development, churches, education and social programs. The vision is to create a better community for all residents through collaboration.

Wilson 20/20 and more than 75 community partners are creating the Beyond 21 plan, which seeks to address the needs of adults ages 21 and older.

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