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At an event on Monday evening, the North Iowa Corridor Economic Development Corp. (NICEDC) introduced North Iowa Connect, a new group formed to help 21 to “40-ish” year olds better connect to Mason City and Clear Lake.

Striving to be a change agent, this group will focus on professional development and quality of life factors to create a more connected and dynamic area for tomorrow’s leaders. And while this group will focus on Clear Lake and Mason City, anyone is welcome to attend and participate.

New programming includes a monthly brown bag lunch called “BLT” (short for Bigwig Lunch Talk) during which a local business leader will address members of the group. The first BLT will be Tuesday, Oct. 12, from 12:00-1:00pm at the Mercy West Campus Conference Room #1. The speaker will be Tony Brownlee, Managing Director of Kingland Systems.

Other professional development programs include Career Development Roundtables, interactive discussions on career-related topics; as well as a partnership with the Clear Lake and Mason City Chambers of Commerce Business After Hours events to help young people become more comfortable with professional networking.

The group also will initiate various social events, beginning with Dinner Connect ñ a once-a-month dinner at a pre-arranged restaurant ñ this Thursday (Oct. 7) at Ralph’s Garden Cafe. Also included are Papa’s Monday Mixer, a happy hour every Monday night at Papa’s American CafÈ; and Thirsty Thursdays, a once-a-month happy hour at a pre-determined establishment.

“Many times we only hear, ‘There’s nothing to do here,’ ” said Andrea Goedderz, Chair of the North Iowa Connect Advisory Council. “We are tired of hearing that and truly believe there is much to do here. It’s a matter of connecting with things to do, people to meet, and ways to make life in North Iowa even better, and our goal is to help people do that.”

North Iowa Connect is a direct response to feedback the NICEDC received in a recent survey, which had almost 500 respondents, representing over 100 companies. Amongst a wealth of information gathered, the NICEDC learned:
ï If this age group were recruiting young professionals to the area, the top selling points would be: Community (friendly people, good place to raise a family, safe); Amenities (Clear Lake town/lake/activities, community events/activities, outdoor activities); and Affordability (cost of living, housing).
ï If the respondents were hiring young professionals, 58% would do so by networking.
ï 36% of the respondents found their current jobs through a personal connection.
ï 40% are involved in local community/social/civic organizations. Of the 60% not involved, lack of time was the most-cited reason.
ï The three local assets/amenities that are most valued are: Clear Lake (downtown and lake), Parks & Recreation (including nature trails), and the Surf Ballroom.
ï 78% of the respondents attend events locally.
ï The favorite restaurant in the area is the Northwestern Steakhouse.

(Please see the NICEDC Young Professional / Skilled Worker 2010 Survey Results report for more information.)

The initiative began 18 months ago when the NICEDC created an initiative to help local businesses recruit and retain a young professional/skilled technical workforce and their families.

“We hear from local businesses that they are having trouble recruiting and retaining a young workforce, and we’re hearing that on other fronts as well” said Gregg Gillman, NICEDC Executive Director. “We can either sit back and worry about this, or we can take action. The North Iowa Corridor is committed to doing something about it.”

Membership in North Iowa Connect is free. For more information about the group, please go to, find us on Facebook, email or contact the North Iowa Corridor EDC at (641) 423-0315.

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