Meet ystark! YP: Brielle Loughney

Name

Brielle Loughney

Occupation/Title/Place of work

Marketing Assistant, Kent State University at Stark

Age

24

Instagram Handle

bbrocks13

Facebook Name

Brielle Loughney

Why are you interested in Stark County’s Young Professionals initiative?

I believe honing in on an area's young professionals is necessary for the growth of community, and Stark County's Young Professionals initiative is doing just that. As a young professional, I yearn to make new connections. I want to network with those who have been in the business for years, as well as those who, like myself, are just starting out. I have lived in Stark County for a majority of my life. I live here, I work here, I photograph here, my church family is here, my husband and I got married here. I am impressed by the community growth I've seen, but know there is room for improvement - improvement that I would like to have a hand in bringing. I want to be a representative of the Stark County community that people within or outside Stark County would feel comfortable reaching out to.

What would you share to encourage other people to join?

I like to think I live by the notion "Love people until they ask why." So, in the same sense, I'd like to promote and engage in Stark County until people ask why. I want to share MY Stark County, MY Stark story as a young person to show others, specifically people my age, that a fulfilling life awaits them right here. Personal testimonies go a long way. When I go to Muggswigz and take a photo of my friends and I enjoying delicious coffee and tea, it's not only a personal life documentation, it is a chance to shine a light on a treasured Stark County coffee shop through my perspective. I like to think of myself as a subtle influencer. Word of mouth is one of the best marketing tools! I never want to shove Stark County down anyone's throat, but I do want them to experience at least a little bit of FOMO (fear of missing out). I know that when I see a cool place that my friends have been (that they mention on social media outlets or in person), I am that much more encouraged and likely to visit that place. To me, my friends are a trusted source when it comes to fun experiences. That said, I want to be a friend of Stark County, a trusted influencer and source for those inside and outside of the community.

Did you grow up in Stark? If so, where? If not, where did you move from and why?

For a majority of my life, I lived in Uniontown, Ohio. I graduated from Lake High School in Uniontown and graduated from Kent State University at Stark in North Canton. My husband and I now live in North Canton. I work in North Canton. My husband and I attend church in Canton South. Most of our days - including our weekends - are spend in Stark County!

Why do you stay in Stark County, from both a personal and professional point of view?

I grew up in Stark County, and while that is a point of comfort, it is also a deliberate choice for me to stay here. On a personal level, I think Stark County has plenty to offer in terms of things to do and see. I can go to Downtown Canton for the "city" feel and then travel 15 miles down the road to the rural magic of Maize Valley. This is particularly true when I think about the clients I serve in my side job as a professional photographer. Most of my clients are from the area, so they always have a plethora of options when it comes to amazing photo locations! In Stark County, I get the best of both worlds. On a professional level, I feel there are constantly opportunities for professional development and growth. Working at Kent State University at Stark, Stark County's only public university, I am lucky enough to see this every single day. In Stark County, people want to see you grow. They want to see you succeed and reach your full potential. As a student at Kent State Stark I experienced this. And now, as a professional, I am experiencing this. Just last year, I was part of Leadership Stark County. I grew immensely as a professional, and made so many contacts - some of which I still reach out to!

What do you like MOST about Stark County?

Taking a note from Kent State Stark's recent insert in "About" magazine, Stark County is truly a place for "dreamers and doers." People here know that success comes from hard work. It also comes from the support of the community that surrounds you. If Stark County should be known for anything, it should be known for it's people. This year our event coordinator was on maternity leave, and I was tasked with planning Kent State Stark's annual Earth Day Celebration. The amount of genuine support I got from Stark County organizations and businesses was immeasurable. I like that in Stark County, if you have a dream, there is likely an avenue for you to make it happen. I immediately think of Sara Heckert and the recent incredibly successful grand opening of GiGi's Playhouse Canton. Ideas aren't immediately shot down, they are thought through and put into motion. Dreams thrive here. As stated in a previous answer, I also like that Stark County offers the best of rural, city and suburban worlds. It is a place to live, play and stay. It is a place for single people and families alike - it is a place for people of all ages.

What would you change about Stark County if you could?

It may seem somewhat arbitrary, but I think Stark County needs more sidewalks - specifically in the commercial shopping areas of North Canton. If we want people to stay and we want people to visit Stark County, safety and travel has to be a top priority. As an example, each fall semester, Kent State Stark welcomes 50+ students from China to study abroad at our campus. These students stay in the new Staybridge Suites in The Venue plaza. They are often seen walking to the mall, to the Target plaza or other destinations. Without sidewalks, the students are not safe. Since we have so many shopping and restaurant options close together, it would make sense for these places to be connected by sidewalks and safe crosswalks.

What do you see as valuable opportunities for YPs in Stark County when it comes to career opportunities, cultural access, leadership or community involvement opportunities?

I think YPs should take better advantage of the professional development opportunities provided to them. For example, my office works closely with Kent State Stark's Corporate University. The Corporate University offers so many professional and corporate development courses year round. YPs should be the ones getting involved on area boards. Their opinions are fresh and valuable and their voices deserve to be heard.

What would attract more YPs to Stark County?

Young professionals like to see the success of other YPs. The successes mean that YPs are being heard - that their ideas are valid and worth pushing forward. For example, I am thinking of the recent opening of Walkie Talkie Espresso & Coffee - started by two YP entrepreneurs. People from all over Stark County and beyond came out during their grand opening "block party" to support them and their business. The opening of Walkie Talkie also means there is one more "experience" people can have while in Stark County. Young people are looking for places where they can have unique experiences. Stark County's coffee shops are definitely some of those experience destinations. I think the upgrading of Downtown Canton (i.e. addition of new restaurants, hip shops, etc.), as well as the addition of area-specific events like Downtown Canton Flea Market, First Friday, etc. are a huge YP draw. YPs want to live and play where things are happening, and I already see parts of Stark County moving in that direction.

What do you do in the evenings or on the weekends for fun in Stark County or NE Ohio?

Many evenings, when the weather is nice, my husband and I like to take walks at the local parks (ex. Price Park, Hoover Trail, etc.). I often do my photography business in the evenings and on weekends, so I am often in various Stark County locations for shoots (ex. Quail Hollow State Park, Downtown Canton, Downtown Hartville, etc.). At least one Saturday a month, my husband and I like to go to Deli Ohio or Taggarts for lunch, and then we like to stop at some of the area antique shops (ex. Arrowhead, Aunt Teaks, Avenue Antiques, etc.). During the warmer months, I always like to make it to at least two of the Downtown Canton Flea Markets. It's a fun way to kick off a Saturday in the summertime. I have often spent some evenings at Muggswigz or Cultured Coffee & Waffles talking and laughing with friends or watching the up-and-coming artists at open mic night. This past winter, my husband and I stopped at Beech Creek Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve on Saturday afternoon for their "Bird in Hand" event. Since our church, Rising Hope Canton, is located in Canton South, we often meet in church members' homes that are in Stark County at least once a week.

Could you see yourself spending your lifetime in Stark County and if not, what would cause you to leave?

Honestly, I could see myself spending a lifetime in Stark County. Stark County is the Ohio I know and love. Some of my fondest memories have been made in this place, and it holds such a special part of my heart. Stark County has a small town-big city vibe that I haven't really found anywhere else. I like that the things I want are close and the things I need are closer. I see the value in exploring other places - other towns, other states, other countries - but in terms of a place to live and settle down, this is the place for me. I feel safe here, valued here, known here. I can see my future children growing up here and going to a great school system. I have a lot of pride in Stark County because its places and faces have made me who I am today.