YPS: A Group with a Purpose – and a Future

EDITORIAL – BusinessWest September 29, 2008 Edition

They call it the ‘brain drain.’

This is one of those contrived terms, in this case used to describe the flight of young people out of a region to find jobs, opportunities, fulfillment … in short, something better than what they had, or thought they could get, where they were before.

The extent and uniqueness of the brain drain in the Pioneer Valley — which has a number of colleges but keeps only a small percentage of graduates (especially from the private schools) in this region — can be debated. What can’t be debated, though, is the importance of young professionals to the vitality and economic health of this or any other region.

Which is why we’re enthusiastic about the early success and enormous promise of a group called the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield, or YPS. Created about 18 months ago, it is off to what can only be described as a phenomenal start in its efforts to — and these are the words right in the mission statement — engage, involve, and educate people under the age of 40.

As it does so, it is helping to keep young people in this region by giving them more reasons to feel better about their presence here, but it’s also preparing them to be better leaders and contributors to the community if, and for however long, they do stay.

But let’s back up a minute. Current officers say the concept of YPS was born mostly out of curiosity. To make a long story somewhat short, some young people were wondering out loud where all their contemporaries were, what they were doing, what they were thinking, whether they liked it here, whether they fully appreciated all there is to do here, and if they could use help getting connected to the region and its assets.

So they scheduled a get-together and invited virtually everyone they could connect with via the Internet. They were hoping for 30 people and got five times that number.

Besides counting heads, organizers listened and learned, and what they came away with was the clear impression that young people, as a group, needed an organization that could help them network, grow professionally and personally, become involved in the community, and develop leadership skills.

So they created one.

And then they developed some programming to define it. These initiatives include what are called Third Thursdays, get-togethers that take place on those dates on the calendar, at which attendees can network and socialize. There’s also the CEO Luncheon, which, as the name suggests, involves an area CEO hosting lunch for 20 or 30 YPS members and discussing a wide range of topics involving business, the community, and life in general.

There’s also a strong focus on the arts and getting people involved with those institutions, and even a New Year’s Eve gala on the slate for this year.

Put it all together, and we have a group that could make — and is in many respects already making — a very positive impact on this region and its business community.

By getting young people engaged and involved, YPS is making the region a better place to live, work, and play. At the same time, it is giving these same young people more reasons to enjoy their time in the Valley, and perhaps prompting more to stay. Meanwhile, with its focus on education, YPS is helping to groom a more-informed, more-capable group of future business owners, managers, employees, nonprofit board members, and public servants.

This a noble and important mission, one that already has the backing of a number of a number of area corporations, and could use more of the same from other businesses and business organizations that all face the daunting challenge of finding talented help for today and especially tomorrow.

YPS is a group with a purpose and a real future — that’s because it’s this region’s future at stake.-

Excerpt from Business West Online: Click here