Durango may have the scenery, the entertainment and the attitude to be a young persons paradise, but for someone looking to start a career here, the town has room for improvement, said attendees at the Young Professionals of Durango kickoff party last week.
There is lots of opportunity here, but you definitely have to seek it out, and its harder if you dont know where to go, said Katrina Todd, president of the Durango Rotaract Club.
There are not enough foundations like this to let young people know there are other people seeking the same concepts, Todd said, referring to YPOD.
Other attendees agreed that besides YPOD, there arent many other networking and career-development opportunities in the area for people in their 20s and 30s.
YPOD, an offshoot of the Durango Chamber of Commerce that began in 2008, seeks to fill that gap by providing opportunities for young people to meet and network with each other, said Rita Simon, chamber manager.
After a lull last year when it dwindled to almost nothing, the group is trying to revive itself this year with the kickoff party and several planned events including volunteering opportunities, classes about homebuying and doing taxes and social outings like salsa dancing and brewery tours.
We want to get young people in Durango involved in the community and invested in the community, said Kristin Nielsen, the organizations new president. (YPOD) helps them connect with other people who are dedicated to growing in their career and developing their profession.
The group combines the support and credibility of the chamber with the energy and new ideas of a younger crowd, said Mandi Davis, chairwoman of the organizations philanthropy committee.
Many of the attendees said it was their first YPOD event, but they were excited about the organizations potential.
Im interested in finding any way I can to promote myself, said Tirzah Camacho, owner of Tirzah Camacho Fine Art. YPOD is a reminder that we can help and serve each other.
Her husband, Phil Powell, owner of Powell Construction, has lived much of his life in Durango and said it isnt easy to start a business here.
The phrase its all about who you know is surely true in a small town like this, Powell said.
Even before the recession hit, Durango wasnt an easy town for a young person to start a business or gain a foothold in a professional career, said Joe Keck, director of the Southwest Colorado Small Business Development Center.
The high cost of living and housing, as well as a saturated labor market in many sectors, make it difficult for a young person to get started, Keck said.
Unless they bring a job with them, it can be pretty challenging, he said.
Keck said he has seen many college graduates work two or three jobs to be able to stay here.
In her experience as well, making it in Durango takes a bit more effort than elsewhere, said Davis, who is a manager at the Ore House.
This is a fun town to live in, you just have to figure out how to do it, she said.