LIMA — Regional medical centers and large manufacturers began struggling with connecting employees and prospective employees to the community.
Jed Metzger, President of Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce, said the organization knew something needed to be done.
In 2017 Metzger, along with the staff at the Chamber, developed Engage Lima, a monthly social event that introduces new people into the community. Engage Lima is hosted at various locations such as medical centers, restaurants and even places such as a skating rink.
Through information provided by company human resource departments in the region, the Chamber is able to reach out to new business professionals and invite them and their families to the event.
“I’ts different than having a real estate person take them out,” Metzger said. “This is more of a friendly connection. We are not trying to sell anything. We are just trying to get you into the community to be connected and engaged.”
Another aspect of Engage Lima are the 40-plus ambassadors who are paired with new community members to get them better acclimated to the community.
“The purpose of ambassadors are to reach out to them before they come so that when they get here they would have a friend that does like things,” Metzger said.
The chamber is currently in need of more ambassadors, people to serve on the Engage Lima committee and sponsors for the programs, as materials can become costly.
Although there are no defined restrictions to become an ambassador, the chamber would prefer someone who has been in the community for a couple of years and is knowledgeable about events, activities and eateries in the region.
“We are always trying to come up with ways to better connect people when they come into the community,” Metzger said. “We know that the more likely you connect them and engage them, the more likely they will have stay in a community.”
Aside from Engage Lima, another way to recruit and retain business professionals into the community is through the Lima Young Professionals group.
Lima YP President Alexa Miller understands first-hand the importance of getting engaged in a new community, as she moved to Lima 11 years ago.
“If you’re not from Lima, it does take a special person,” Miller said. “I knew that if I was going to stay in the community that I was going to invest in it too, and it would be a place where I was going to raise my family. I think other Young Professionals could attest to that as well.”
The Lima YP initiative is to spread the love of Lima and promote the events and activities that are going on in the city with the main purpose of retaining talent in the area.
“Over the years, we see that people go to school here and go to college but are not returning to Lima and getting jobs in other communities,” Miller said. “We want to engage the professionals in the area, whether they moved here or are natives. If we don’t engage them and show them what is great about the community, they could get another job and up and end up leaving.”
A YP member has the opportunity to get engaged in various events such as the professional development program, where members can learn about different places in Lima while enjoying lunch.
There is also Businesses Over Beverages, which happens the first and third Thursdays of the month at Biggby Coffee. Early risers who want to network before work gather at the coffee shop for beverages to network.
For those who would rather meet after work, they have that opportunity to with the monthly Pub Club events, a happy hour social that allows members to social and network.
One of the many ways that Lima YP recruits talent is through company sponsorships. Company sponsors are provided two YP memberships for their employees to join. Lima YP members are typically in their mid 20s to 40s, but the organization does not discriminate, Miller said.
Lima native, Amber Basares, who left the Lima area to seek other opportunities, recently returned to the area after being convinced by her mom and best friend that it was time to come back.
She is now employed at West Ohio Community Action Parternship and is president of the Greater Lima Ohio Young Black Democrats. Basares is interested in getting involved with the Lima YP and the Allen Lima Leadership groups.
“I believe in action and being an example, and know that I have to start with myself,” Basares said. “The Young Professionals group is a great opportunity for young professionals to get together to socialize and network. I also think that it has good potential to get minority business involved as well and get them involved in the community.”
ALLEN LIMA LEADERSHIP
Similar to Engage Lima and the Lima YP, the goal of ALL is to not only retain the current talent in the area but also build and develop leaders in the community.
Through ALL, business professional leaders in Allen County go through a yearlong program where they learn how to develop a business plan, finances, fundraising, and essentially how to use their leadership skills to empower others.
Students also learn about agriculture, the government, the legal system, small business, manufacturing, and tourism to better attract people to the area. They also experience ride-alongs with Lima Police Department and the Allen County Sheriff’s Office.
Students start off with a two-day orientation, which provides an opportunity for them to socialize and network. Then they attend classes through a 10 month period, and the last two months they come up with a group business project that betters the community.
“A lot of people have already developed their business skills at their companies, so we are fine-tuning the leadership skills and giving them information on how to be a leader here,” said Adah Ellerbrock, ALL director. “We want to provide them with those key points and connections.”
ALL is able to recruit students into the program through reaching out to employers to find out the next leaderships at the company.
The program is currently recruiting new students, and those who are interested are encouraged to apply at allenlimaleadership.com under the programs tab.
“We are developing leaders for here, finding those connections and building a tight-knit group that they can always go to,” Ellerbrock said.
Reach Camri Nelson at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @CamriNews