By Lori Anderson, President & CEO, International Sign Association

When ISA created its Elite program three years ago we had no idea how popular the program would become or how quickly it would catch on. People were applying to be a part of the 2017 ISA Elite class before the applications were even open! Some 150 young people applied to the 2017 program, which will bring 34 up and coming sign professionals to ISA Sign Expo 2017 and a 3-day leadership training at ISA’s headquarters in the fall.

Yes, those accepted in to the program can have bragging rights for being an “ISA Elite.” But that doesn’t answer the question: why is ISA doing this?

Consider these facts:

The bottom line is that we need young sign professionals to be enthusiastic about the sign, graphics and visual communications industry not just now, but for the long haul. To fill open jobs, our industry is competing against other manufacturing interests, as well as the service and financial sectors, all of which are in need of millennials to fill open positions. The ISA Elite program helps these bright and talented individuals see a long-term future with the sign, graphics and visual communications industry. With Baby Boomers quickly retiring and the number of Generation Xers unable to fill the needs, millennials need to rise quickly to serve as industry leaders.

The sign, graphics and visual communications industry is an incredible career path. These 34 young folks in the 2017 class will leave ISA Sign Expo 2017 ready to take on the world. Congratulations to the 2017 ISA Elite Class for achieving these bragging rights! In looking over this class list, as well as the 2015 and 2016 rosters, I think the industry will be in great hands for the future.

And that, my friends, is why ISA is investing in this program.