Phelps County Has Potential to Attract Young Professionals

Friday, July 22, 2016

Friendly people, safe neighborhoods, cultural opportunities, short commutes and local residents’ willingness to invest in the community’s future all make Phelps County attractive to young professionals.

However, a lack of restaurants, tight housing and rental housing markets and few public gathering places besides bars can be detriments.

These were comments collected from young professionals at recent gatherings to explore ideas for recruiting and welcoming new residents to Phelps County and connecting them to the community once they arrive.

The events were organized by PCDC intern Paige Dexter, along with assistance from Project Coordinator Alli Donohue.

Staci Trumble, who works at BD in the purchasing department, is originally from Cambridge and moved to Holdrege after working in Omaha for several years.

“Since I grew up in a small town, I wanted to raise my son in a small town,” she said. She lives in Holdrege, and her son goes to school in Loomis.

When she interviewed to work at BD, she was pleased with the salary they offered combined with the lower cost of living in Holdrege and is happy she made the move.

“Growing up, I didn’t realize the opportunities Holdrege had,” she said. “Even now, I’m still surprised at the organizations and opportunities available here.”

Jordan Mruz, an attorney who is originally from Fremont, moved to Holdrege in 2014. He and his then fiancé Julie, also a local attorney, took a stroll in the North Park in their first few days in town.

“We didn’t get more than 30 yards, and someone stopped and asked who we were,” he said. “We got another 30 yards, and someone else stopped us. I thought this was about the friendliest darn town I had ever been in.”

One of the aspects that he most enjoys about Holdrege is the short commute to work or anywhere in town.

“If I had to, I could wake up and be in my office in 10 minutes,” he said.

Julie and Jordan are now married and have purchased a home in Holdrege and enjoy the community, their friendly neighbors, and their jobs here.

Julie, who is originally from Sioux Falls, SD, said her first impressions of Holdrege were favorable.

“I thought, ‘Wow, this is a really nice small town,’” she said. “I was impressed with the look of the town. It looked like a nice little town you’d see in a book.”

She also was thrilled that the week she moved to town coincided with the opening of the 308 Boutique in downtown Holdrege.

Although finding housing was difficult, she was encouraged by the cooperation among realtors in helping her find a place to live.

Her boss, Phelps County Attorney Mike Henry, also said that cooperation among local entities, such as the police and sheriff’s departments, is a bonus of living in Phelps County.

Henry grew up on a farm near a town of 1,200 people.

“Any town that has a McDonald’s is like a big city to me,” he said. “I appreciate that Holdrege is big enough that it has services – two grocery stores – but it still has a small-town feel.”

When he first visited Holdrege, he noticed the modern Phelps Memorial Health Center, the Don Sjogren Community YMCA and lots of other new construction and houses.

He also researched the population trends of Holdrege and was encouraged to see a stable, rather than a declining, population.

He soon realized the generosity of local residents toward their community.

“People in Holdrege are not afraid to invest in their community,” he said. “As long as you have that, it’s going to stay vital.”

Henry’s wife, Tana Fye, is also an attorney who recently opened a private practice in downtown Holdrege.

What she most enjoys about Holdrege are the welcoming people and the cultural opportunities, including Tassel performances and Rehmsworld concerts.

“A lot of small communities don’t have anything like Phelps County,” she said.

As a business owner, she has been encouraged by the support she has received locally in starting and growing her business.

“I think Phelps County works extremely hard to help businesses to be successful,” she said, citing help from the Phelps County Development Corporation, the Holdrege Area Chamber of Commerce and other local entrepreneurs.

Fye said the first step to bringing in new young professionals is to have jobs available and then to share with prospects all the great opportunities in Phelps County.

The group expressed several ideas that may help young professionals connect, including monthly social events. PCDC is considering launching a young professionals group that would include the social aspect as well as opportunities work together to recruit other young professionals to the area and provide a platform to share and express fresh ideas to help the community thrive.

For more information about connecting with young professionals, contact Alli Donohue at PCDC at (308) 995-4148 or alli@phelpscountyne.com.

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