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Beck: 20 Under Forty will recognize community's young leaders (column)

4:30 PM, Sep. 1, 2013  |  Comments
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Don't get me wrong. I like baby boomers. I happen to be one, and I have thinning hair to prove it.

But look around, and you'll see lots of people ages 45 to 64 around here. By far, that's the largest and fastest-growing age group in Marathon County.

At the risk of getting mired in numbers, consider this:

? The percentage of those 45 to 64 in Marathon County grew by nearly 21 percent from 2000 to 2010.

? During the same time, the percentage of those 25 to 44 in Marathon County dropped by more than 12 percent.

Now, I'm hardly a math whiz or social scientist, but those are concerning statistics.

And they provide the context for a new Daily Herald Media initiative to recognize the efforts of young professionals in the Wausau region. And we'd like your help.

Beginning Sunday, the Daily Herald will accept nominations for its first 20 Under Forty initiative in which five local judges from the business and nonprofit communities will pick 20 young professionals who are making significant contributions to their professions and the community.

Criteria by which the 20 will be judged include career achievement, commitment to career excellence, company leadership and community involvement.

Daily Herald Media then will recognize and honor the 20 young professionals in videos, stories and at a celebration at The Grand.

Of course, we're not the only ones who understand what younger people contribute to this area. We have smart, supportive partners in our 20 Under Forty program. Peoples State Bank is the premier sponsor of this endeavor. The Wausau Area Chamber of Commerce is the event sponsor.

Other 20 Under Forty partners are: Wipfli, WPS, Rasmussen College, Ruder Ware, Northcentral Technical College and Greenheck Fan Corp. An impressive group of partners who understand that retaining and attracting younger people is vital to this area.

I know we have outstanding young professionals in the Wausau region. I am honored to work with and serve with them. Younger people bring energy and ideas, and I'm thrilled they want to be here and get involved in the community.

Others share my enthusiasm for professional and civic engagement by younger people. Perhaps you've noticed the Emerging Leaders group organized by the United Way of Marathon County. Or the Marathon County government's efforts to identify and address quality of life issues of importance to young adults.

There's an active coalition developing to help engage young professionals in leadership roles. Area business, government and education sectors have programs to engage young professionals.

We applaud the focus while understanding there is much work to do. We want to join these efforts - and we think the 20 Under Forty program is a great way to do that.

Thank you in advance for your nominations.

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