When Limited Brands cut 400 jobs in March, Dave Cherry was among those who was let go.

The former senior executive, who moved to Columbus for that job seven years ago, calls the cut "one of the best things that will ever happen to me."

In the six weeks since then, he's been meeting old contacts for coffee, going for bike rides and taking his daughters to the zoo. In short, he's enjoying Columbus.

And that's what he tells everyone he meets. Cherry has been working since last year to help establish the YP Ambassador Program, an offshoot of the Columbus Chamber that sets up meetings between out-of-towners being recruited for jobs and those who live here and love it.

While the majority of What Columbus Needs respondents called Columbus a good place to advance in your career, others cited job loss and the bad economy as the biggest challenges facing the city.

The survey also revealed many are worried about "brain drain," or talented young professionals leaving to take jobs elsewhere.

Columbus needs to actively promote itself so that young people overcome skepticism, move here and get hooked - like Cherry, who grew up in Philadelphia and also lived in Atlanta.

He's searching hard for another managerial-type job in town so he won't have to relocate, and he's found that networking comes more easily in a close-knit community.

"I'm in an interesting spot because I love Columbus, I want to stay," Cherry said. "My biggest concern is that I'm going to get an offer next month ... that's not in Columbus."

Since the YP Ambassador Program launched in March, it's reached out to several recruits, including Rodney Williams, who moved to Columbus from Atlanta in 2007 for an engineering job with AEP.

He misses home and year-round warm weather, but Williams tells friends and family Columbus is a progressive city that's economically stable.

A few months ago, the YP Ambassadors group contacted Williams to set up a dinner for him and two ambassadors. They told him about local networking groups for engineers, like the local chapter for the National Society of Black Engineers.

Williams joined several of those groups, many of which have hosted conventions in Columbus recently or have plans to do so.

"Columbus is really beginning to get its name out there on that level," he said. "Hopefully if nothing changes, this is possibly where I'd stay for a long time."



How do you compare the local economy in Columbus to other cities'?

8% much worse

15% a little worse

35% about the same

40% a little better

2% much better

Is the city doing enough to attract good jobs in your field?

36% yes

64% no

Is Columbus a place where you can advance in your career?

59% yes

41% no

Is it easy to get involved with politics, nonprofits or other community organizations here?

82% yes

18% no

How do you compare Columbus' networking opportunities to other cities'?

3% much worse

17% a little worse

58% about the same

15% a little better

7% much better