Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Guest Blogger: Warren Call

We're kicking off the New Year with a guest blog from our new Young Professionals Chair, Warren Call. We are so excited to have Warren representing the Young Professionals program and cannot wait for an amazing year! Take it away, Warren:

Warren and his wife

“From Rome to Eden.”  That’s the title of the novel my wife is currently writing.  The title refers to the move I put her through when we decided to get married.  Rome is where we met, I went to school and she lived for eight years (quite happily with no interest in moving to a small cold town in the States).  Eden refers to Eden Hill, a spot on the north shore of Crystal Lake (near Beulah) where I grew up.  And Yes, I did actually ask her to make that move for me.  Luckily for me, she was crazy enough to go for it.  Luckily for both of us, it was a great move to make – eventually buying a house in Traverse City, Beulah would have been too small for her…

Let’s backtrack… After high school I went to MSU, then moved to Utah to be a ski bum, then moved to Rome for grad school and worked a bit in NYC – basically any place more exciting than Northern Michigan.  I travelled the world, prepared for a big-city career and met an exotic woman.  Then something funny happened, when I thought about where I wanted to make a life for my family – I came back here.   

How often have you heard some version of this story and what does it say about this area? 

Obviously we are surrounded by natural beauty and we get the chance to enjoy it.  But the pace of life also allows me to walk my kids to school… and I know my neighbors.  There is small-town character and I feel involved in my community.  My family can enjoy world-class beaches, National Parks, and more year-round outdoor activities that I can count.  This mix of nature (Eden) and quality of life brought me back.

But that natural beauty also makes this area a vacation destination and that influx of diverse people provides us with far more cultural activities, art, festivals, and cuisine than our size would otherwise dictate.  It’s the unique amenities like Interlochen, The Film Festival, and our restaurants and wineries that keep my wife from getting bored. 

So we are very lucky to have an abundance of natural beauty, small-town charm, arts and culture – but good luck finding a job!  And if you a lucky enough to find one, remember a view of the bay is half your pay…

But does that have to be true?  With the changing knowledge-based economy and the advent of mobile technology, the business environment of Northern Michigan may be changing as well.  After all, if you could choose to work from anywhere, many people would choose to work from here.

There are huge benefits to creating a community of smart, young, ambitious, entrepreneurial people centered on Traverse City.  Many young people are choosing “Destination Careers” because where they live is just as important as what they do for a living.  There is a great opportunity to promote this area as a career destination, not just a vacation destination.  We can provide these talented people with the tools and mentoring to be successful here.  We can recruit young professionals here – or bring them back here – or keep them here (keep you here) in the first place. 

It’s with this concept in mind that I’m very excited to be the 2013 YP Committee Chair.  My focus will be to develop what I’m calling the Recruit and Retain Initiative. 

This plan fits with the Chamber’s ongoing program to attract, retain and grow young talent in Northern Michigan.  Last year the Chamber’s Careers Magazine, titled toward a young demographic, got off to a great start and has been very well received.  This year, look for the Chamber to produce a Traverse City Young Professionals promotional video highlighting the successful young professionals of this area and the benefits our area provides to young people. 

In conjunction with the Chamber’s efforts, the Committee’s work regarding the 2013 Recruit and Retain Initiative will focus on three areas:

First, we can leverage our networks to create a team of local people that connect young professionals in our area with young people that are considering making a move to Northern Michigan.

Secondly, we can serve as a conduit linking student and alumni groups from across the Midwest with our business community to highlight the benefits of starting a career in Northern Michigan.

Third and perhaps most importantly for those of us who already live here, we can foster the professional development and career growth of our existing young professionals and our new recruits through the Chamber’s mentorship program. 

I’m really excited about where the Traverse City Young Professionals Program is headed in 2013.  It’s going to be a great year and I hope you will be involved.  I believe we can highlight the attractiveness of this area for “Destination Careers” and build a thriving economy to match our natural Eden. 

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