Otto Larson talks with a group of eight graders about a career in insurance during a career fair. About 1,000 eighth grade students from Clark County met with Clark County businesses at the Hollenbeck Bayley Conference Center. The annual program was one of the reasons Clark County was selected to participate in a national program. Bill Lackey/Staff

Springfield leaders developing program to keep more young workers here

A local workforce development official is developing a program to retain young workers in Clark County after completing a national year-long fellowship.

Amy Donahoe, director of hiring and employer services for the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, recently completed a fellowship with the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. The national program invited applicants from 20 chambers from across the U.S. based on workforce development efforts.

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Donahoe said she is now developing a pilot program to make younger workers more aware of the opportunities available in Clark County. The program will involve educational meetings for students over the summer that provide information on self-branding, mentorships, networking, negotiating compensation and more.

“It’s engaging with businesses who already have a college internship program and want to see their interns become more involved in the community while they’re working here,” Donahoe said.

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The interns will meet at four locations, including Speedway and the Springfield Museum of Art, to discuss the topics. Ideally the students will be more open to applying to jobs in Clark County if they’re more familiar with the area, she said.

“Our goal is that these individuals will then consider this community when they go to graduate college and not just look at bigger cities,” Donahoe said.

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The fellowship invited 50 chambers from across the U.S. to apply but only selected 20, Donahoe said. Springfield’s application was accepted in part due to recent workforce development efforts, including developing an annual career day for middle school students and an internship that pairs high school students to Clark County businesses.

“The things we were doing as a community stood out enough for them to recognize us,” Donahoe said.

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The pilot program will start out with about seven younger workers initially to encourage them to think about Clark County after graduation, she said.

“This isn’t going to fix it but it’s a piece to address it,” Donahoe said.

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