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Plant City Observer Friday, Dec. 16, 2016 1 year ago

On the Rise: Young professionals group Rise Plant City launches

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Rise Plant City is a new organization dedicated to recruiting and retaining young professionals in the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World.

By Matt Silverman | Staff Intern 

As Plant City undergoes a growth spurt, one new organization is seeking the voices of young professionals in Plant City.  

Rise Plant City’s website is set to launch Tuesday, Dec. 20. The group’s board members are primarily young professionals that either live or work in Plant City with one common goal: to support economic development in Plant City by attracting and retaining other young professionals.     

“The long-term goals are to reach out and give young professionals a voice within the community,” Rise Plant City Chairman Tom Pollock said. “It’s going to give them a platform to improve their community, to get involved in the decisions that are being made in the community.” 

Pollock, a Plant City native, is the founder of Rise. Prior to helping launch the organization, the Lakeland resident was involved with Emerge Lakeland, another young professionals group where he served on the membership committee. The organization inspired Pollock to consider forming a similar group tailored to the economic needs of Plant City. 

David Sullivan, a board member of the Plant City Economic Development Corp., encouraged Pollock’s involvement in Plant City. Pollock developed his concepts for Rise while working under Sullivan at Platinum Bank. 

In May 2016, the Rise board was formed. 

“Ultimately, the goal is to bring people in or retain them,” Pollock said. “A lot of people who go to college decide not to come back (to Plant City).” 

Through economic development, the Rise board wants to create opportunities in Plant City that appeal to the younger demographics, including activities, restaurants and events. Pollock thinks Plant City is on the right track — from the walkable streets of Historic Downtown to unique spots like The Corner Store and Keel and Curley Winery, the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World has the potential to become a permanent residence for the younger workforce. 

“‘Potential’ is the biggest word that comes to mind when I think of Plant City,” Pollock said. “We have Midtown, which is a large area that is prime for development. Keel and Curley (is) doing a great job of bringing people in.” 

As the group grows, Pollock looks forward to Rise working with the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce and the Plant City EDC. 

With the board organized, the group is accepting newcomers. Rise members should be working professionals or recent college graduates between ages 21 and 42. Once part of Rise, members will enter into a large network of like-minded professionals and business owners looking to hire young talent. The organization also is seeking a treasurer. Membership in other Plant City organizations, including nonprofits, will be encouraged. 

“We’re going to bring in the right people to serve in that capacity as mentors,” Pollock said. “There’s a lot of interest there.” 

The group will be organized around a central board with branching committees to serve members’ strengths, including events, marketing and membership committees. All decisions made by the group will be decided by vote.   

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