Since the Columbus Chamber launched its Attract and Retain initiative targeting young professionals in 2006, its efforts have focused on three points: convincing alumni to return to the region, connecting young professionals already in town, and developing the city to make it an appealing place to live, work and play.
That hasn't changed, city officials said at last week's State of the Young Professional address. But they want the rest of the city to get involved, too.
"We need a community that acts and looks and feels like the 15th largest city in the United States," said Rebecca Ryan, a Next Generation consultant the city hired to get the initiative going.
The presentation provided thoughts from Ryan and Mayor Michael Coleman through pre-recorded videos.
Columbus Chamber President Ty Marsh, Vice President Bill LaFayette and City Councilman Kevin Boyce also shared their thoughts in person, recapping the city's progress and explaining a planned pilot program that would pair out-of-town company recruits with Columbus young professionals.
That ambassadors program will start at AEP, Nationwide, Limited Brands and NetJets in a few months, said Jamie Timm, the chamber's director of marketing and communications.
The after-work crowd, mostly in their late 20s and 30s, mingled after the presentation over finger foods and beverages, and seemed optimistic about the city's future.
Anyone who was interested could record video clips of what they enjoy about Columbus for "Tell Your Story," which will be used in an upcoming marketing campaign outside the region.
City leaders hope the gathering left them motivated.
"I really want to encourage you guys to think about how to help engage new relocators to the region," Ryan said via video. "So whether that is taking somebody to lunch or inviting the new kid to meet you for drinks with some of your friends, we've got to make sure that Columbus continues to be one of those cities where it's not difficult to be from somewhere else."