Young professionals praise Elkhart County’s direction, urge more kids programs

From a “smaller Ann Arbor” to the “Bloomington of the north,” Elkhart County has plenty of young professionals singing our praises.

But there’s still work to be done, according to a panel of twentysomethings who were invited to speak at a Vibrant Communities event.

Ashley Boling Molyneaux, who was born and raised in Elkhart and moved back here from the Chicago suburbs, said, “We need to dream up what we want Elkhart County to look like, and then we need to back that up (on how to achieve that).” Boling Molyneaux said a great thing about her hometown is the entrepreneurial spirit and opportunity for young people to step up and fill a need.

Matt Harrison of Elkhart said he convinced a friend to move from Las Vegas to Elkhart because of the immense opportunity for people with skills in technological backgrounds. “You can move up quickly,” Harrison said.

Jesse Sensenig, who started Goshen Brewing Company with his wife, Amanda, is the one who described Goshen as a “smaller Ann Arbor.”

“I love the area so it comes out when I’m sharing with people,” Sensenig said.

A panel of young professionals and entrepreneurs in Elkhart County talk about key factors to attract and retain talent to this region.

Ashley Bowen, a Concord High School graduate who works for the United Way of Elkhart County, said personal stories are important because they highlight what you’re passionate about. She said it was time to move back home when she started missing this area even as she lived in one of the world’s gems in Barcelona, Spain.

“You can just relax being here,” Bowen said.

The panelists challenged Elkhart County to become even better at activities and programs that bring people together.

Boling Molyneaux said Elkhart County needs to build the area’s social infrastructure with more places for people to gather such as community centers. Several panelists said youth programs are especially important, citing the Tolson Center in Elkhart as an example of a program that needs to be supported.

“We need more resources for kids,” Bowen said.

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