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OUR OPINION: Transforming young professionals into leaders

The Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce is engaging in leadership by example.

Among the six new board members the chamber will install in January, four are members of its Young Professionals group.

The installation will mark another step in ongoing efforts to attract more young people to the Jefferson City area — not only to live and work, but to serve and lead.

An initial step in the transition was establishment of the Leadership Jefferson City Program. The program is designed to familiarize participants not only with the economic landscape, but with the demographics, diversity and history of our community.

More recently, the chamber formed a Young Professionals group to crystallize and advance the ideas of people under age 40.

An ongoing initiative to develop a strategic plan for the future will be unveiled at a public meeting in mid-January.

An element of the plan — called “The Jefferson City Transformation” — involves efforts to attract and retain young professionals.

One of the most convincing ways to do that is to follow talk and planning with action.

The chamber has talked about and planned for younger leadership; now, they are installing younger leadership.

Chamber President Randy Allen acknowledged “a deliberate effort to pepper this year’s nominating committee with young professionals,” anticipating they would elevate some of their peers.

Four of the six new board members come from the Young Professionals group; a fifth is in his early 40s.

“This marks a major shift in emphasis,” Allen said.

We commend chamber volunteers — and community members who participated at public forums — for devoting their time and talents to craft a strategic plan to guide our community’s future.

We believe the inclusion of young professionals is a vital and integral part of that plan, and we applaud the chamber for transforming talk into reality.

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