My name is Kelsey Doom, and I am your new director of economic development. I have been asked to write a column to update my community on the plans an...
Meet the New Director of Economic Development!
June 9, 2014
Get to Know the Future of Our Community
August 6, 2014
I recently read an article in the New York Times that has been on my mind as the youth in our community graduate and start their adult lives. The article was entitled “One Key to Success: A Belief in a Future,” written by Eduardo Porter. Porter described a program in place in a rough neighborhood in Chicago that works to give the youth a shot at a future they wouldn’t otherwise dream possible. To do this, the program coordinators provide the teens with a “visionary goal” of what their lives could be given they desire something beyond the lives their parents led.
I couldn’t help but compare this program to our local Boys & Girls Club, which has done amazing things for this community’s younger population. The Boys & Girls Club of the Missouri River Area was formed in 1998; enough time has passed for us to see the effect it has had in our area. I, for one, have recognized said effect and am proud to say that my parents, Scott and Lynne Doom, along with many other amazing community members committed to community development, helped the club in its early stages to help it become what it is today. The Boys & Girls Club has given our young people insight into their potential and has helped youth set goals for their lives.
That being said, local organizations (like the Boys & Girls Club) and our school system are molding some pretty awesome young people. I sincerely hope local community and business leaders realize this and are taking advantage of the fact while they still have access to local students. For example, Mitch Breen, a 2010 graduate from Wagner Community School, might not have come back to his hometown if not for the potential Juffer Inc. saw in him. “I wanted to come back, but knowing that there was opportunity to make a good living was a big reason I moved back to Wagner,” Mitch said while discussing how we can keep the locals coming back to our great little town. Mitch worked in the office over the summers while attending college and had ongoing conversations with Gerrit Juffer about the options to be hired on after obtaining his degree. Mitch now has license to sell life and health insurance, as well as real estate; he is working towards a property and casualty license as well as crop insurance in the future.
There are many business owners in town who are ready to retire. Retirement of a business without succession leads to the loss of a service and/or product in the Wagner Area. Part of my job is to help businesses expand and grow, but also to simply keep the doors open. My dream would be to connect retiring business folk with young entrepreneurs to keep local services available to the community, but that will take a lot of trust and communication from local business owners.
My challenge to you is to engage the youth—chat with the server at the restaurant about their goals, see what the boy bagging your groceries wants to do with their life. Make our young people know the value they hold in our community and that we would love for them to stay and/or come back to our area to raise their families. I had many conversations with local leaders while attending high school, and I am not sure I would have come back to my hometown if said individuals hadn’t made me feel respected the way they did.