Young people gather in ‘Bring Them Home’ effort |

Young people gather in ‘Bring Them Home’ effort

“Ah to be young again.”

Unless, that is, you’re trying to launch a career, buy a home and raise a family here.

To discuss what can be done, or at least commiserate and provide camaraderie, a group of more than 20 young people met Wednesday night with some local business, civic and government leaders.

The gathering, part of the “Bring Them Home Campaign,” is targeting young people to help make the economy more viable for the long term. It is led by the county Economic Resource Council, among others.

“It’s very difficult to come back when you go away to school,” said James Arbaugh, who bought Stucki Jewelers in downtown Grass Valley three years ago with his wife, Nicole. “It’s easy to find a job, but not so easy to begin a career and raise a family.”

The Arbaughs, both 34, grew up here and wanted to come back in the summer of ’97. They gave themselves six months to find a job and were prepared to keep “marching down the hill,” as James put it, until they found work.

James landed a job as operations manager of Stucki and Nicole was hired to be a public relations assistant at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital.

Three years ago they bought the jewelry store and are raising their children here. James came Wednesday night to learn from others and help impart some knowledge if asked.

“Young people sometimes aren’t the loudest voice and can be lost in all the political noise,” he said.

Some local business people spoke about the trials and tribulations of running businesses. They included Gil Mathew, former Benchmark Thermal owner and ERC president; Keoni Allen, president of Sierra Foothill Construction; and Lisa Swarthout, Grass Valley vice mayor and downtown clothing store owner, among others.

“Everyone was young and poor once, but opportunities exist out there,” said Jack Starr, 30, summing up much of the discussion.

Starr is the son of the founders of the Sierra Star Vineyard in Grass Valley. He graduated from Chico State and worked in Sacramento for about five years in parks and recreation administration before coming back to the area with his wife, Molly.

Starr helps run the winery and Molly is a government teacher at Bear River High School.

“Coming back is tough,” Starr said, referring to finding jobs and housing.

Diversifying the economy will help, he said. The group met at the Nevada County Contractors Association and plans to get together again around December.

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