Rebecca Ryan to Bring ‘Cool Community’ Message to Dalton
“Your community’s coolness is a trump card in the race for talent,” says Rebecca Ryan in her groundbreaking book, Live First, Work Second. “Your ability to attract and keep the Live First generation will determine if your companies stay in business, your arts organizations keep their doors open, and your tax base remains stable.”
Ryan will bring her timely message to the NorthWest Georgia Trade and Convention Center on Thursday, Oct. 13, when a collaborative of 16 community sponsors presents “Creating a Greater Dalton: Rebecca Ryan Shares Strategies for Attracting and Retaining Young Professionals.” The program will include a lunchtime keynote address by Ryan followed by a roundtable discussion between Ryan and area Young Professionals (YPs) and college students on Greater Dalton as a place to live, work, play, and learn.
Sentiments shared in the roundtable discussion will be analyzed and condensed into a White Paper report to be used to inform future decision-making as area employers and community leaders develop strategies for attracting and keeping young professionals in our community.
Community sponsors for the event include City of Dalton, Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia, Creative Arts Guild, Dalton Public Schools, Dalton State College, Dalton-Whitfield County Joint Development Authority, Emerging Leaders Institute of the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Northwestern Technical College, Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce, Hamilton Health Care System, Leadership Dalton-Whitfield Alumni Association, The Daily Citizen, UGA Archway Partnership, United Way Young Leaders Society, Whitfield County, and Whitfield County Schools.
“Rebecca Ryan speaks to an issue that is critically important to us,” said Dr. John Schwenn, President of Dalton State. “Not only is it important to us to have a ‘cool community’ in order to attract college students here, it is also essential as we recruit creative, educated young adults for our faculty and professional staff. Too many times we’ve had great employees come only to leave a couple years later because ‘there is nothing to do here.’”
Elyse Cochran, Director of Economic Development for the Dalton-Whitfield County Joint Development Authority concurs. “One key to successful economic development is building a community that offers viable live and play options for a local company’s workforce,” she said. “Rebecca Ryan’s debut in Dalton can launch a dialogue to potentially transform our community in becoming a preferred living option for current and future young professionals.”
“You can’t talk about the City of Dalton’s 10-year Vision video without talking about Rebecca Ryan,” says City Administrator Ty Ross. “She was one of the key thought leaders in its production. Whether it was the addition of downtown amenities or the construction of greenways connecting eco-experiences, every aspect of Dalton’s plan touches and concerns Rebecca’s blueprint for creating places that are attractive to young people.”
For others, the appeal of Ryan’s philosophy is more personal. “Rebecca Ryan’s work has inspired people throughout the United States,” says David Aft, President of the Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia. “As a parent, her work has particular resonance, as I want Dalton to be a community which attracts young people and gives our own children ample reason to return to this area to work and raise their families. The Dalton Whitfield Community Foundation is proud to join other community institutions in bringing Ms. Ryan to Dalton to further our conversations and explore ways to make Dalton a place where people can build a fulfilling, fun, and balanced life.”
Event organizers hope that area employers and community leaders will attend the program to learn what it is that the “next generation” is looking for in a community and that they will encourage young professionals and college students to attend and participate in the dialogue.
“We believe Rebecca Ryan’s visit and the message she brings us could be transformative for our community,” said Pam Partain, a member of the Planning Committee. “For that reason, we have kept the price low –basically the cost of lunch—so that it can be accessible to all who have an interest.”
Cost to attend is $15 ($5 for college students); reservations are required and may be made through the Chamber of Commerce website, www.daltonchamber.org, or by calling the Chamber at 706-278-7373. Keynote address is at 12 noon on Thursday, Oct. 13; buffet line opens at 11:30. Ryan will convene her roundtable discussion with young professionals and college students at 1:15 and will adjourn at 3:15.For more information, contact the Dalton Chamber or call Pam Partain at 706-272-2985.