Columbus is competing against every other city in the nation, and the city must succeed to ensure its long-term well-being.

Columbus is competing against every other city in the nation, and the city must succeed to ensure its long-term well-being.

Once the baby boomers retire, the nation won't have the workers to take over their jobs - there simply aren't enough young people to replace the older generation. Robbie Banks is Columbus' champion in the effort to guarantee the area hangs onto the young professionals it needs.

"Everyone in the nation is going to be scrambling to hold onto their young talent," said Banks, young professionals manager at the Columbus Chamber. "We definitely want to make sure those existing businesses here locally have the skilled workforce they need, otherwise we can't prosper as a region."

She does that by helping young residents connect with others, advising the city's approximately 60 young-professional organizations and working as a liaison between various local government entities.

"My role is to connect and engage young professionals in the region so they're more likely to stay," she said.

On a given day, Banks might talk with Columbus transplants or entrepreneurs looking to improve their connections. Later she could meet with the Create Columbus Commission, the city's young professionals commission, which serves as a sounding board to keep the city government informed on what issues are important to young professionals.

The Columbus native is glad she gets to put her love of the city to good use.

"It's essentially what I'd do anyway, but because it's my job I'm getting paid to do the things I love," she said.

Beyond showing folks how much the city has to offer, she enjoys being able to pick the brains of experts and local decision-makers.

"It's nice to be at the table at times with people that are really determining the city's future and feeling that I'm part of that process," she said.

While most of Banks' efforts are currently focused on retaining Columbus residents, the city isn't doing a bad job of attracting people, either.

Banks said that from 2006 to 2008, the eight-county region attracted 2,700 young professionals in the age range of 20 to 39.

"We can't directly attribute that to our efforts, but we'd like to think that what we're doing, we're on the right track," she said.