The Pensacola Young Professionals were born out of Hurricane Ivan. In 2005, the Pensacola area was focused on recovery. By the hundreds, young adults were moving away to better paying jobs and better qualities of life. Community leaders talked about how to retain our talented professionals, but none of them were talking to that age group.
Today we see young professionals in leadership roles throughout the community. In 2005, they were regulated to back tables at most Rotary Club meetings and rarely made the cut to be a part of Leadership Pensacola. They were told to wait their turn or come back when they earned more experience.
The Independent News stepped in and convinced the Pensacola Chamber to facilitate the formation of the Pensacola Young Professionals (PYP). The goal was simple: help the under 40-year-olds get seats at the tables where decisions about the future of this area were being made and voice their concerns.
Once the group got started in the spring of 2006, the newspaper stepped away and let it evolve as its leaders and members saw fit. The Independent News promoted its events and offered support when asked, but we believed that PYP needed to be free to develop and evolve.
The membership has grown to over 300 members. It’s professional development institute and internship program have been very successful. PYP also manages the Better Pensacola Forum that produces the annual Quality of Life Survey. Non-profits seek out its members for their boards. Several members work in local government and for area lawmakers.
By most measurements, PYP has been successful. It’s time to capitalize on the momentum that it has built over the years and begin speaking out for its generation. The decisions that will be made over the next few months and years will shape this community for the rest of this century.
As it was eight years ago, the Pensacola area is faced with a massive rebuilding effort. The April flooding has shown serious defects in our stormwater infrastructure and federal and state funds will be made available to help us cure them. RESTORE dollars will start arriving later this year to help our recovery from the 2010 BP oil disaster. Adding to those millions will be the county and school district’s extensions of the local option sales tax out to 2028, if the voters approve the referendums.
PYP must speak out and weigh-in on how these funds are spent. They cannot be merely rubber-stamps of what their employers and other outside interests want. The fight is for their futures and for the futures of their children and grandchildren.
We need to hear from them.