What role do young professionals play here?

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You often come across articles about CSBJ Rising Stars, Colorado Springs Rising Professionals (CSRP), Colorado Springs Young Professionals (CSYP), TeamUSA Young Professionals and Leadership Pikes Peak’s LNOW! program.

You may believe that you understand what these organizations are about — or you may dismiss them entirely. Either way, if you are not involved with them, then you may not truly understand the role that they play in the Colorado Springs community.

Before I continue, I would like to unclearly define the term young professional.

The 2013 Colorado Springs Quality of Life Indicator (QLI) suggests the age range of 25 to 44 is a young professional — or another common term is “prime working age.” The age range could be argued multiple ways, but for this article’s sake we will follow the range set by the QLI.

Feel free to set your own age parameters around the term young professional.

Take a moment to reference the 2013 Colorado Springs QLI, which is available online at www.ppunitedway.org/ourimpact/qli. In 2006, 31 percent of the Colorado Springs population was made up of young professionals. In 2013, that number has fallen to 27 percent.

It is suggested by economic experts that it is critical for a city to maintain a population minimum of 30 percent young professionals. To explain the decrease, we can blame the recession, jobs, a downtown, but we can’t blame young professional leadership groups.

Colorado Springs Rising Professionals is launching three new programs in 2014 that are designed to retain and attract young talent.

The Board Internship Program will facilitate board training for members and general public who are interested in serving on a local board. Following training, CSRP will begin working with local boards in placing young professionals on boards for 12-month internships.

CSRP’s College Mentorship initiative will leverage the group’s existing partnership with UCCS and several other local colleges. The goal is helping students build their network, and engage them in the community and on local projects.

Finally, the CSRP group will focus on the young professionals in the military. CSRP has identified the gap between military and civilian young professionals. They will again leverage the mentorship program and create networking events in an effort to close that gap.

TeamUSA Young Professionals is effectively connecting the expansive amateur sports business market, for which Colorado Springs is well known. In all, 234 employees of the U.S. Olympic Committee, 25 Olympic national governing bodies and other Colorado Springs sports organizations are collaborating to keep talented employees here, develop employees professionally and increase their work/life satisfaction.

Today, 41 percent of the Colorado Springs workforce is made up of young professionals. If you are an executive, they could make up the majority of your team. For directors, they are your subordinates. Many are creating new business, serving on boards and starting families in the community.

They are emerging as leaders, pushing the community forward and connecting people.

Colorado Springs is entering an exciting time in its history. Clearly, young professionals are going to play a very influential role in the development of our community’s future.

It takes programs like CSRP, CSYP, TeamUSA YP and Leadership Pikes Peak to attract and retain young professionals in our community.

They are so much more than a social gathering club. Young professional groups provide connections to programs, people and organizations that many young professionals don’t believe they have access to.

These groups mentor, enlighten and educate.

And their programs are a vehicle to a better future for our city.

Adam Andrasko is manager, training sites and community partnerships for the USOC. Originally from Hawk Run, Pa., he has a degree in sport administration from Lock Haven University and a master’s degree with a focus in sport management from Old Dominion. He also serves as chair of TeamUSA Young Professionals and of the Colorado Springs Rising Professionals Sport and Culture Committee. He’s a 2011 graduate of Leadership Pikes Peak’s LNOW! program and a Colorado high school wrestling official.