Chris Sell has been hard at work, shaping an initiative that highlights Lansing as a place to settle, build a career, and enjoy an active, urban life. To date, those efforts have paid off, with nearly 2,000 people attending events that showcase the city's quality of life.
Since Spring 2016, Sell has been the chief architect behind Lansing 5:01—an organization devoted to showing young professionals that Lansing is alive during the day and after 5 p.m., and a vibrant, destination city to live, work and play.
"I believe we satisfy an important need," says Sell, founder of Lansing 5:01. "And that's to connect young talent to the parts of the region that are of the greatest appeal to them. We know that college grads and young professionals aren't just looking for a job. They are looking for a quality place to live first, and jobs second."
Similar to other groups in areas like Grand Rapids and Detroit, Lansing 5:01 aims to attract and retain talent through unique events centered on placemaking, economic development and career opportunity. In its first year in 2016, Lansing 5:01 hosted three summer-time events, attended by about 700 people in their early 20s. Many were interns at premier employers in IT and technology, insurance and finance, healthcare, advanced manufacturing and non-profits.
In 2017, Lansing 5:01 upped the ante and strengthened the breadth of programming. The number of attendees spiked to 1,300—a nearly two-fold increase from the previous year. Interns attending the events represented nearly 30 colleges and universities from across Michigan and the U.S., with two from overseas.
"That's a reflection of the diverse talent that our employer partners recruit and employ throughout the summer and the year," says Sell. "It's also a testament to the quality of intern experience that employers provide in Greater Lansing."
Lansing 5:01 is also behind Capital Comeback—an annual event held the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The idea, Sell says, is to invite former and current residents to explore dynamic urban career and living opportunities through casual networking, and to consider relocating back to Lansing to join the city's economic and cultural renaissance.
Sell says Lansing 5:01 plans to amp up in its third year. In addition to scheduling events year-round, the all-volunteer organization will involve more employers and sponsors in building social, informative events at contemporary venues that range from downtown incubators to brewpubs to outdoor entertainment spots.
"Our goal is to broaden our reach, including reaching students during the academic year," says Sell. "We want to show talent all the best parts of Lansing, and illustrate the benefits of making Lansing your next home."
Source: Chris Sell, Founder and Chief Architect, Lansing 5:01
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor