The following article appeared in the The Whitehall-Catasauqua News:
Network brings together local young professionals in Valley
There is a disease known as "brain drain" that affects many areas throughout the United States where talented young college grads look to move to larger cities to start their careers.
The symptoms can be the loss of local talent from local colleges and the absence of young professionals within certain companies.
The Lehigh Valley Network of Young Professionals has been working for the last five years to combat this phenomenon.
"We started in reaction to the 'brain drain,'" Network Vice President Wendy Gerlach, a Rodale, Inc. employee said. "We wanted to bring young professionals together an try and keep them in the Lehigh Valley."
For years, many companies in the Lehigh Valley have found it difficult to recruit and retain young professionals.
The idea behind the Network was to foster a sense of community among this group and to help them get out and meet other young people, to provide them with professional development and showcase what the Valley has to offer. If you could improve young professionals' quality of life, then they would be less likely to consider leaving, she said.
"We routinely hold social events while also giving young professionals throughout the Lehigh Valley the chance to meet with other people like them, who may not know of certain events that are being held or maybe don't know many other people in their same situation," she said.
Five years ago, the Ben Franklin Technology Partners stepped in to help with the development of the Network which is unaffiliated with any local chamber of commerce.
The Technology Partners, a state-funded economic development group, helped harness the every of some of the region's young professionals to start a group.
The first event was held on Jan. 24, 2001. More than 80 people attended. Since then, membership and interest have steadily increased.
Gerlach said that the Network holds social events that may include going to different independently owned restaurants throughout the area, hosting certain day trips and also providing certain seminars for young professionals to visit, whether at local colleges or other venues.
"We want to give young professionals the opportunity to not only get together, but also learn new things that they can bring back to their own jobs," Gerlach said. "We want them to be able to grow professionally within the Lehigh Valley."
The Network has numerous events planned form coming months including a social outing in downtown Bethlehem.
For more information on The Lehigh Valley Network of Young Professionals and to find upcoming events, visit www.netyp.org.