By: Kent Oyler  –  President & CEO of Greater Louisville Inc.

The other day I was invited to speak to a lunchtime gathering of the Young Professionals Association of Louisville. Back in the 80s, when I used to be a whipper-snapper young professional myself, that group was called the Jaycees, as in Junior Chamber, and to be honest I mostly belonged to find dates.

Well I have bad news and good news. The bad news is that, after a long and productive run the Louisville Jaycees are defunct. The good news is that we can all enjoy a renewed optimism that Greater Louisville can and is attracting and retaining talented young professionals.

The 120 twentysomethings in attendance at the YPAL lunch were bright, verbal and attractive (65% of the 800+ YPALers are under 30). They were all in sharp business attire, exhibited excellent table manners and were engaged in lively table conversations focused on issues of community, business and career development (apparently eHarmony has usurped the Jaycees dating club).

While some in our region are decrying the ‘brain drain’, groups like YPAL are showing that young professionals can plug in, engage and have a great career right here in the River City.

Something is working. The Louisville MSA was just ranked #1 by Forbes Magazine in retention of recent college graduates, ahead of Portland and Austin. That means that young people from our area are finding success in staying here and morphing into young professionals.

And lots of them are engaging in YPAL and other groups aimed at younger professionals. Their leadership has created a “make the world a better place” mindset that draws in career-minded millennials in ways and numbers that are now far exceeding the always ambitious Jaycees of yore.

YPAL, which is volunteer-led, has its own executive director and is now taking stances on important political issues such a telecom reform. Their mission is to “connect, engage and develop metro Louisville’s young professionals through community, professional and social opportunities.” And on top of that they are doing with an astounding 90 or so events each year.

Intrigued? Check out the YPAL web site. And then bookmark it next to your eHarmony URL.

Learn more about Greater Louisville Inc. or read Kent’s post on GLI’s website here.

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