Welcome and Connect Service

The Welcome and Connect Service are working to bring back the Young Professionals Conference this fall. 

OTTUMWA — Money can be a struggle for young adults. It can also be a struggle when it comes to planning a conference.

Newcomer Relations Coordinator Andy Maw, from Welcome and Connect Service, is facing that struggle. Maw spoke at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting hoping to gain donations to revive the Young Professional Conference, a conference for young professionals who want to learn about job networking.

For a year and a half, Maw and his colleagues from Welcome and Connect Service have been working with the Legacy Foundation to bring back the Young Professional Conference. “More young people are coming back to Ottumwa,” Maw said. “This conference would be great for young adults to come and build a social network of job opportunities for young adults.”

Maw was able to attract the state conference to come to town from September 19 to 20. Maw said September 19 will be a social event for the 150 to 200 young professionals coming to Ottumwa. Those professionals will learn about job networking and the next day will focus on diversity in Ottumwa.

“Some sessions will be how to talk to people with different viewpoints,” Maw said. “Some of the rhetoric isn’t the best, especially in the political world, so we need to learn how to communicate effectively that is beneficial to one another.”

A diversity session will focus on attracting and retaining people of diverse backgrounds. “It’s not diverse in regard to just ethnicity and race, but people with disabilities and different sexual orientation,” he said.

While Maw was excited the Young Professional Conference will help build opportunities for young professionals, he worried about funding. So far, Maw said the Welcome and Connect Service has $11,000 to $12,000, but the total cost is $15,000 to $20,000.

“Ticket sales will help those cost, any leftover money from it,” Maw said, “YPI (Young Professionals of Iowa) will give a portion to our local Ottumwa Young Professional Organizations which will be helpful to build our membership and do activities in Ottumwa.”

Maw is still looking for different sponsors to help with the costs and asked the county supervisors if they could donate. Maw addressed different sponsorship levels. One is the social level and the other is a book sponsorship. The social level promotes the conference through various methods and a book sponsorship guarantees an organization will receive free copies of books from one of the speakers at the conference. Both sponsorships would contribute $1,500.

After the supervisors thought about how much to contribute, they agreed to take on the book sponsorship and decided to contribute $1,500.

“We appreciate your support,” Maw said, “We are really excited about bringing that many people to Ottumwa, it’s a great chance to showcase what we got going on here.”

— Chiara Romero can be reached at cromero@ottumwacourier.com.