Theo Charles, center, receives an internship stipend with Pinkham Real Estate. Courtesy photo.
Finding ways to attract and engage millennials is a struggle statewide. But the further North one travels, the greater the challenge. To combat that, recent classes of Leadership MWV, (offered through the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce in North Conway) are using financial incentives to entice younger workers to stay in the area.
The 2016 class created a STAY MWV fund to help young professionals pay down their student debt.
“They noticed some were going into the workforce with serious student debt and wanted to try to find a way to help them pay off debt while still living in the Mount Washington Valley with the job they have and raise a family here,” says Michelle Cruz, the chamber’s events and MWV recreation and transportation path administrator. “This was a way to provide [assistance] to alleviate debt so they can live in the Mount Washington Valley comfortably.”
The initiative proved popular and subsequent classes have continued to raise money for the fund, raising $26,000 during the past three years, says Cruz. The 2018 Leadership class added a new incentive, launching the THRIVE MWV fund, aimed at 16 to 19 years olds who live in the Valley, but who are not college bound and need help establishing a career.
“We have tons of trades where they can make a decent salary,” Cruz says, but high school students are not always aware of the local opportunities and resources available to them.
“Employers have opportunities for people who don’t have a degree but who want to learn a skill,” she says.
Students can apply for a Thrive MWV stipend on the chamber’s website. They must explain why they want to stay in Mount Washington Valley and what they need to take the next step to get a job. The 2018 class gave five stipends, including one for a musician who needed an amp and one for a young man needing tools to become an electrician.
The Class of 2019, consisting of 16 people with a total of $300,000 in student debt, is currently raising funds for both projects and trying to hit $10,000. “We cannot afford to let go of millennials in this Valley,” Cruz says. “Baby boomers are retiring.”
“We want young students in the Valley to know there is something here for them,” including those who do not want to start accumulating student debt right after high school, Cruz says. “We want to let them know we are a resource to help them find these jobs and let them know there is a way to find funding if there is some kind of barrier to taking the next step.”
For more information, visit staymwv.com or leadershipmwv.com or contact Rebecca Miller, administrative assistant at the chamber and a member of the Class of 2019 for Leadership MWV, at 356-5701 ext. 300.