POCATELLO — A new networking group in town is hoping to give people more reasons to grow their roots in the area.
Gate City Young Professionals will be hosting a kickoff event from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Zoo Idaho in Pocatello. The founders of the group say the free event will introduce people to all the opportunities the group has to offer, which include monthly meet-ups and mentoring groups.
Rachael Shearouse, the education curator at Zoo Idaho, and Danielle Cooley, an American Family Insurance agency owner, are co-chairs of the new group, which is under the umbrella of the Pocatello-Chubbuck Chamber of Commerce.
They say that for people moving into the area, there aren’t many ways to get to know people, which makes it less likely they will stick around in the long run, which can end up costing local businesses a lot of money.
“When people come (to Pocatello) and they get a job, they don’t stay because they don’t find people to hang out with or network with,” Shearouse said. “They don’t feel like they’re progressing in their career, so they leave and go somewhere that has these things. We’re trying to offer the social aspect so they create connections that keep them here — we’ll have service things, volunteer hours — and then if they feel like they’re helping this community and they have a stake in this community and they want to make it better, they want to stay.”
Shearouse and Cooley say Gate City Young Professionals will provide people with not only potential friendships that will increase their ties to the Pocatello area but also with mentoring programs in a variety of fields to become more successful in their professions.
“It’s a benefit for the corporations to send their young employees because they’re going to gain skills that make them better employees and then they’re going to stay because they have friends that they like to do things with here,” Shearouse said. “It saves them money because they’re not having to hire people every year for the same jobs.”
And that can be a big perk for businesses because the cost of losing an employee is hefty. The Center for American Progress compiled data from 30 studies that researched the cost of replacing an employee.
The research says that:
— To replace an employee earning less than $30,000 a year, which includes about half of American workers, the average cost is 16 percent of the annual salary.
— To replace an employee earning less than $50,000 a year, which includes about three-quarters of American workers, the average cost is 20 percent of the annual salary.
— To replace someone in an executive position, the cost is up to 213 percent of the executive’s annual salary. For someone making $100,000 a year, that would be $213,000.
In addition to monthly events that will generally be held on Tuesdays — social hours on odd months and lunch-and-learns on even months — the group will divide into subcommittees for a variety of career paths. Those subcommittees will be able to do their own events in addition to the larger group events, and young professionals don’t have to commit to being in one group.
“We’ll bring in people who are further in their field to spread knowledge and to help those individuals,” Shearouse said.
Gate City Young Professionals isn’t just for young people, either. It’s for any person who is new in their career.
“The target is people who are entering into their career, of any age,” Cooley said.
Shearouse added, “I think we’re mostly targeting younger ages because that’s where most people are starting out, but we don’t want to discriminate against anybody either.”The idea for the group began more than a year ago when Cooley was at a Pocatello-Chubbuck Chamber of Commerce board meeting and someone from the Boise Young Professionals gave a presentation.
“I empathized with their target market — the people who are entering into their field after college or whatever — because I started my business at 25,” Cooley said. “I had no help, no guidance, didn’t know what the heck I was doing. It took me a really long time to get involved in the community.”
After listening to the Boise Young Professionals presentation at the chamber meeting, Cooley and other members of the chamber board decided to start something similar in Pocatello. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and those plans were put on hold.
Now, the Gate City Young Professionals group is finally ready to hit the ground running, starting with Tuesday’s kickoff event, which will feature giveaways, music by DJ Yev and hors’ d’oeuvres by Sand Trap. The kickoff will be held at Zoo Idaho, and people should enter through the main entrance at 2900 S. Second Ave.
Shearouse and Cooley urge everyone in the Pocatello area — businesses and individuals alike — to attend the free event.The first official Gate City Young Professionals event after the kickoff will be a cornhole tournament from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. July 13 at Star Route Brewery, 218 N. Main St. in Pocatello. Pocatello singer Shawn Barnby will be performing at the tournament.
“It’s just going to be more of a fun networking event to get to know everybody who is interested or has joined,” Shearouse said.Corporate memberships to the Gate City Young Professionals are $275 a year for businesses with one to 24 employees, $550 for 25 to 99 employees, $825 for 100 to 249 employees, and $1,000 for businesses with more than 250 employees. Individual memberships are $115 per year for people who don’t work for a business that is a chamber member and $55 per individual who is a chamber member if their employer doesn’t want a corporate membership. Members can add their spouses to the group for $30 annually, and student and military memberships are also $30 per year.
Both Cooley and Shearouse struggled to connect with people when they were both starting their careers in Pocatello, and they want to make sure others don’t have the same experience.
“We’re just doing this because we have a passion for it and want to help the people who are younger moving into their career so that they don’t have to deal with what we had to deal with,” Cooley said.