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A Look At Efforts To Attract Young Professionals To The St. Louis Region

(March 11,2019) (L-R) LaShana Lewis, Susan Gobbo and Katie Carpenter discussed local efforts underway to attract and retain newcomers to the region.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

Moving to a new city can sometimes be daunting, whether it’s a move for work, family or school. But it doesn’t always have to be – and in St. Louis, there are resources that transplants can take advantage of if they know where to look.

A variety of local efforts are underway to attract and retain newcomers to the region, and on Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh led a discussion about where those activities are at – and what new St. Louisans can do to make their transition to the area more seamless.

Joining the discussion were Katie Carpenter, FOCUS St. Louis’ associate director of Member and Alumni relations; LaShana Lewis, director of Aerospace IT and board member for the Downtown Neighborhood Association; and Susan Gobbo, founder of the St. Louis Mosaic Project Women’s Connector.

Lewis is a native to the area. She said she uses her skills, knowledge and experience to help new transplants take advantage of the innovation community in St. Louis.

Her main advice when helping a newcomer adjust to St. Louis is the suggestion that they befriend an “ambassador.”

“Usually I tell people that's kind of the first thing you need to do, just find somebody that knows the city well, can kind of take you around and show you the different little cliques here and there,” she explained.

She also founded a consulting company to help businesses expand on their diversity efforts by “getting out to the region and changing the landscape of exactly what their organization looks like.”

Attracting international residents

Gobbo is a native of Brazil who moved to St. Louis about a decade ago. She helped to establish the St. Louis Mosaic Project Women’s Connector, a program that helps women immigrants feel welcome as they transition to a new country.

“It's really to welcome these international people when they come over here, because they don't have any connections. The culture is different. The language is different,” Gobbo said. “So [the Mosaic Project] provides a lot of different programs to help [immigrants], [whether they are] students or professionals, or in my case women, that come over here with their husbands. So my role is to connect and to help them integrate into the city.”

Carpenter said connections can come from an array of activities: jobs, meetups or volunteering at nonprofits.

“Anecdotally, these connections can come from a lot of different places,” she added “But how do we scale up and do more of that?”

FOCUS St. Louis is hosting an event to help “bridge the gap” between locals and newcomers.

“[The event] is really not about teaching transplants what's going on in St. Louis, because a lot of times transplants are our best advocates. They are champions for the region, and they are so engaged in what's going on,” she said.

“[But] we want people that have lived here their whole lives and people that are new and anyone in between that really fits that young professional category, because we think the conversation is going to be a lot more robust if we have all of those groups represented.”

Listen to the full discussion:

Related Event

What:Bridging the Gap Between St. Louis Natives and Transplants
When: 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Where: Maryville University (650 Maryville University Drive, St. Louis, MO 63141)

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Alex HeuerEvie HemphillLara Hamdan and Jon Lewis give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Lara is the Engagement Editor at St. Louis Public Radio.