This is Y Lakeland

I had a great talk with the future of Lakeland this morning. While so many are out debating the merits of the Polk County Rail Hub, Cat Carter is working hard to attract, and keep, Lakeland’s young professionals.

Carter works for the Lakeland Economic Development Council. We first talked some months ago when her test website (Y Lakeland) was noticed by Josh over at EP. She’s a convert to Lakeland and very interested in helping other young professionals discover the joy of our community.

In addition to her work with the LEDC — attracting prime businesses to Lakeland — Carter is committed to helping graduating students find Lakeland’s hidden opportunities. She knows our town has to keep our best and brightest, and attract the creme of the crop from college graduates all over the state and country.

One of her pet projects is the afore mentioned Y Lakeland. The website is geared to area college students and recent graduates. Written from her Young Lakeland Professional point-of-view, the site will feature everything she can find that helps other YLPs.

She’s heard the plaintive cry of area students that there’s “nothing to do in Lakeland.” She plans to reverse that thought by featuring all the interesting places, people and projects in Lakeland. The site currently highlights the basics: where to eat, shop, play, and work in our growing town. Of course, Y Lakeland has a blog that will highlight topics interesting to the YLP community.

She hopes to eventually help businesses match internships to Lakeland students. She’s not out to push any other organization out of the way, but she saw a need to focus on the 18 to 25 year-olds of Lakeland. Eventually, as EMERGE Lakeland moves to become a self-directed organization, she’d like to see them take over the work of Y Lakeland.

In the meantime, Carter plans to speak to area high schools, focus on our colleges, and help businesses see the untapped talent that Lakeland has to offer. She also is working hard to help those talented individuals find the area concerns that make Lakeland unique and vital.

Or, as she succinctly put it: “It’s all about connecting,”