West Side News

Grant program seeks to attract, retain young professionals

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Who knows better than young professionals in Columbus what it takes to keep young professionals in Columbus?

That's the thinking behind a grants program City Council members established in July through the United Way of Central Ohio that will allow the Create Columbus Commission to distribute $50,000 toward programs intended to appeal to young professionals.

United Way acts as the fiscal agent for the commission, formerly known as the Columbus Young Professionals Commission, which was jointly established by the city and Columbus Chamber of Commerce in 2007.

"I think the mayor and I thought the real goals of these grants ought to be ways the Create Columbus Commission could help encourage and support residents in developing innovative and neighborhood-based initiatives that focus on improving the quality of life for young professionals," said City Council President Andrew J. Ginther.

"We want them to spend the rest of their careers here and settle into the neighborhoods for the rest of their lives," Ginther said.

This is the first grant program for the organization and more than 30 young professionals, said council spokesman Adam J. Leddy.

The Create Columbus Commission is "dedicated to identifying and implementing strategies and tactics to help Columbus attract and retain young and talented individuals. CCC established that this grant opportunity be made available to organizations and groups actively seeking to enhance the YP experience in Columbus," according to an announcement from Leddy.

"The new grants program was created to support initiatives by and for young professionals that make Columbus the best place to live, work and play," Steven Michalovich, co-chairman of the Create Columbus Commission, said in the statement.

"As a commission, we are excited to have a real impact on the ideas and programs that organizations around the city have to support the young professional community," Michalovich said

"I think community leaders realized that young professionals are the future of Columbus," he said.

The initial filing period for the grants runs through Aug. 31. The form for applying is available at createcolumb.us/ create-columbus-grants.

The goals of the grant are to:

* Encourage and support residents to launch innovative, community-based initiatives with a specific young professionals component.

* Provide strategic financial support for one-time costs for events, initiatives or programs that impact young professionals.

* Improve the young professional experience in the areas of arts, sports and entertainment, careers, neighborhoods and transportation

"It's one of those projects and initiatives, we're really kind of turning it over to commissioners and to young professionals throughout the city," Ginther said.

"They're the closest to it and they have the best sense of what's going to work with young professionals.

"It's something they can do best if we empower them to do it, while at the same time holding them responsible," Ginther said.

"We've gotten a lot of inquiries from a lot of groups around town," Michalovich said. "It's been pretty interesting so far what we've seen.

"I think a lot of groups are still trying to wrap their arms around this."

kparks@thisweeknews.com

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