Attracting Young Professionals to the Stateline

By: Tina Stein
By: Tina Stein

Some of them are our bosses...some are our co-workers...and some might work for us. The some we refer to are the 30-thousand Rockford area baby boomers approaching retirement.

About one in five Rockford area residents are baby-boomers. In their lifetime, they've logged an average of about 60-thousand hours on the job. More and more of the boomers are starting to cash in their final paychecks and head off into the retirement sunset.

With so many of these folks leaving and about to leave the local workforce, replacing them is growing in difficulty.

"We have to start planning the foundation now for who is gonna step up now and provide leadership for the future if we don't start growing now, we'll have a big problem," says Kris Kieper, a Next Rockford board member.

Some local business groups think some of the boomer replacements need to come from outside the area. These agencies are searching for ways to attract more young professionals, white-collar workers, to the Stateline.

Next Generation Consulting has a contract to find solutions to the boomer worker gap. One solution might be to enhance the downtown area.

"I think they hold great potential and are wonderful places for young professionals to go. It would be nice to walk from restaurant to restaurant...cafe to bar...it's wonderful," Kieper says.

Next Rockford will be interviewing thousands of young workers on what would draw them to the Stateline. That information will be used in developing a long-term plan to help keep businesses in the area.

"If we don't do this, find a way to bring gen xrs. We could have without other strategies...a population decline that would not move well economically with the region," says the President of R.A.E.D.C, Janyce Fadden.

The consultants will have the report completed in a few months. The groups will then use their plan to get more workers and companies to the Stateline.

50-thousand dollars are needed for the study. Next Rockford has raised about 25-thousand dollars so far. Donations are being taken at the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois.


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