Winners of the 2023 Bestslope NextGEN Award

Young professionals share information at YP SummitIn today’s rapidly evolving job market, communities face the challenge of retaining their young talent. As young professionals seek diverse opportunities and experiences, many cities and towns grapple with a “brain drain” effect, losing their brightest prospects to larger urban centers. However, the Grand Junction Area Chamber in partnership with the Young Professionals Network of Mesa County (YPN) took a proactive step toward addressing this issue by hosting its first-ever Young Professionals Summit and Bestslope NEXTGen Awards. This event has not only empowered our young talents but also set the stage for a more vibrant, self-sustaining community by encouraging them to stay and thrive locally.

The idea for the Young Professionals Summit and Bestslope NEXTGen Awards germinated from the recognition that Mesa County possesses a wealth of talented young individuals eager to make a difference in their careers and community. The Chamber, along with YPN, saw the need to create a platform that could harness and nurture this potential. Thus, the concept of the summit and awards was born.

a variety of images from the YP Summit show activities throughout the day

Aimed to address multiple facets of the young professionals’ journey, from networking and skill development to mentorship and community engagement, the summit and awards was meticulously designed to offer a comprehensive experience that would not only be informative but also inspirational.

One of the primary goals of the summit and awards was to facilitate networking opportunities for young professionals. Networking is often

touted as one of the most valuable assets in career development, and the summit and awards organizers recognized the importance of providing a platform for young talent to connect with their peers and established professionals.

Throughout the event, attendees had the chance to interact with speakers, mentors, and fellow participants, creating a supportive ecosystem that would extend well beyond the summit and awards’ duration. These connections proved to be invaluable, leading to collaborative conversations and new friendships that will continue to benefit the community.

Skill development is a cornerstone of professional growth, and the summit and awards offered a range of workshops and seminars on topics crucial for success in both personal and professional growth. Sessions covered areas such as leadership, communication, financial planning, and civic engagement, providing attendees with practical knowledge they could immediately apply to their careers.

One of the summit and awards’ keynote sessions featured Western Slope native and author Kerry Siggins as she shared her journey of self-discovery and failure. Attendees heard how her pathway through addiction and hardship was turned into an opportunity for growth and success. Beyond the immediate benefits for attendees, the inaugural Young Professionals Summit and Bestslope NEXTGen Awards has had a lasting impact on talent retention across our Valley. First and foremost, the summit and awards has instilled a sense of pride and belonging among young professionals. It demonstrated that Mesa County is not just a place to work but also a place to grow, connect, and make a meaningful difference. Many participants have expressed a newfound appreciation for their community and a desire to invest in its future.

Moreover, the networking opportunities and mentorship connections made at the summit and awards have the potential to result in career advancements for many attendees. Several young professionals expressed a desire to explore new leadership roles in local businesses following the summit and awards and feel they have acquired pathways that will lead to their success.

The summit and awards’ emphasis on community engagement will hopefully also inspire a wave of volunteerism among young professionals. As they become more deeply rooted in Mesa County’s social fabric, they are more likely to remain in the area and contribute to its growth and prosperity.

The success of the inaugural Young Professionals Summit and Bestslope NEXTGen Awards serves as a blueprint for the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce’s future efforts to develop and retain local talent. It has demonstrated that investing in the growth and empowerment of young professionals not only benefits the individuals involved but also the community as a whole.

As Mesa County looks ahead, the Young Professionals Summit and Bestslope NEXTGen Awards will continue to play a pivotal role in shaping the trajectory of young talent in the region. By providing a platform for networking, skill enhancement, mentorship, and community engagement, the summit and awards is creating a pipeline of driven, community-oriented professionals who are committed to making Mesa County a better place to live and work.

In conclusion, the inaugural Young Professionals Summit and Bestslope NEXTGen Awards has been a resounding success, not only in empowering our young talent but also in laying the groundwork for a more prosperous and vibrant Mesa County. It has shown that by nurturing and supporting our young professionals, we can not only retain their talent locally but also foster a brighter future for our entire community.

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