Rosetta Stone Alumni Band Together to Remain in Town

After a round of layoffs at Rosetta Stone earlier this year, several dozen writers, photographers, designers, computer geeks, translators and other creative folks found themselves without jobs in a town many of them had come to love.

“We’ve bought homes, started families, developed strong friendships, and otherwise put down roots in the Shenandoah Valley and want to stay,” says Kim Reedy, a writer who moved to Harrisonburg from Seattle for a job at Rosetta Stone.

Not wanting to leave but unsure about what sorts of other job prospects existed in the area, Reedy and a group of other laid-off colleagues began talking about ways to find other work. In early May, Laura Dent – another former Rosetta Stone employee – and Kai Degner, a city council member, arranged a group meeting with local businesses leaders to explore possibilities.

Also at that meeting was Nicky Swayne, executive director of the Shenandoah Valley Technology Council, a group that promotes the local technology sector.

“If these people could stay here … that only contributes to the viability of the Shenandoah Valley and Harrisonburg as a business location,” says Swayne. “If they are successful, we get to retain their talent and their entrepreneurship.”

With Swayne’s encouragement, Reedy and Rosalind O’Brien, a third member of the Rosetta Stone alumni group, began working on a website with profiles of group members, showcasing their individual skills and experience. The site, called Your Town, Our Town (YTOT), went live with two profiles on May 4, and now includes 17 profiles. Its primary purpose is to help local business find and hire skilled workers from the recently enlarged pool of job-seeking creative talent in Harrisonburg.

Your Town, Our Town – a new website showcasing creative talent-for-hire, launched last month by former Rosetta Stone employees who hope to find new work opportunities that will allow them to stay in Harrisonburg.

“People who find the site can either contact YTOT with a general work request, or they can look for a specific person to contact. We want to make it as easy as possible for people to find us and request work,” Reedy says.

As of last week, the website had scored one member a job interview and at least two other offers of freelance work, according to Reedy.

“We’ve had a strong a supportive response from the community since we’ve publicized the link, “ Reedy says.

After some requests to be listed on the site from people who never worked at Rosetta Stone, YTOT has decided to limit itself to former or current employees of the company who live in the Shenandoah Valley. Listing on the site is free, and others who fit the criteria are encouraged to join the group.

“Two core purposes seem clear,” Reed continues. “1) to help our talented group of former colleagues, and ourselves, find rewarding, lucrative work and 2) to support the Harrisonburg business community.”

YTOT is planning a bigger publicity push soon through various social media. It also plans to work toward its second goal – supporting the local business community – by creating a section on the website that lists other companies and groups that offer similar creative & technology services.

Updated 6/24/13: YTOT is on Facebook.

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  1. Regina DeMatteo says:

    What a wonderful commitment to community involvement from both the city and the people who want to stay and make Harrisonburg a better place. Kudos to all and Good Luck to everyone!

  2. This reminds me of a dozen years ago when I found my self unemployed in H’burg after the dotcom company I was working for ran out of money. Options in the town were limited for a software developer, and I was overqualified for the 1 job that showed up in ads every two months. Eventually, I ended up starting my own business so I could stay in town. It’s still going strong today, even though I eventually decided to leave and return to Maine and the sea. If people love and want to stay in H’burg, the low cost of living can make starting a business a real possibly for someone with an idea, the incentive, and the right financial situation.

    Personally, for a site like this, I think it would be nice if they opened their arms to folks outside of the Rosetta Stone alumni. That’s where I would have been at the time, and I would have greatly appreciated the inclusion and the opportunity for networking.

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