Article published in BusinessNorth, November-December 2001
Jessica Poskozim and her friends frequently get together to socialize, network with other young business professionals, have fun and work in their gardens.
Others in the group are working to introduce younger people to the local symphony, and help outdoor enthusiasts link up for new adventures.
They also have come up with an economic development report they plan to submit at the Duluth Economic Summit.
Poskozim is part of the steering committee for the Bridge Syndicate, a group of under-30-somethings who are breaking all the stereotypes about young people being unwilling to get involved in serious issues.
There’s no hard membership count or weekly lunch meeting with dues and rules and jokes. Hundreds of people are connected by email, with dozens meeting informally in small groups to work on specific projects or plan particular events.
The goal is to create an atmosphere that makes young workers – and entrepreneurs – stay in town.
It’s working for Poskozim. “I got involved last January because I’m not from the area,” she said. “I like it. It’s a good way to meet people.”
A native of the Menominee, WI area, she works at The College of St. Scholastica and lives with her husband in Superior.
At the heart of the group is City Councilor Donny Ness, a young but already successful politician.
“He’s so organized, and he encourages all to start our own subgroups,” she said.
The group isn’t just looking for ways people can help them find fun and friends. They understand their economic impact, and they use it by meeting at small, locally owned restaurants and bars.
The report to the summit isn’t new research, but a synthesis of suggestions made throughout the community. Bridge members organized them into a list of priorities they want the city to address.
Key suggestions include:
- Focus economic development efforts on specific industries to gain critical mass, rather than scattering efforts under the broad heading of technology.
- Create a higher education/community strategic planning process, with faculty and staff taking a role in local issues.
- Create an innovation business center to aid new businesses by organizing all economic development, technical and other services in one place. Make agencies assess services, eliminate duplication and streamline access.
- Create a culture of willingness to change and accept new ideas, particularly in welcoming new business ideas.