Why I Love Living and Working in Beloit After College -
From Beloit College student…
I came to Beloit in 2011, five years ago. All that Beloit had to offer was lost on me as a 19-year old college student. I spent most of my time on the Beloit College campus and its closely surrounding blocks, venturing downtown only for things like the college Bookstore/Barnes ‘n Noble and local eateries like Bagels ‘N More and organic-grocery-store-farm-to-table establishment Bushel ‘N Pecks.
I almost never spent time “across the river” and I rarely traveled further north of campus than Taco Bell across from the Ken Hendricks Memorial Bridge. I most often (when I could find a friend with a car) went south of the border to Machesney Park because it boasted indulgent and far away commodities like Target, Panda Express, Panera Bread, and Kohl’s.
Perhaps I was a little over-the-top in my disconnect from Beloit “City Life” to Beloit “Campus Life,” but it was not until living in Beloit after college that I began to discover the truly special aspects of Beloit that make living here so, so worth it.
…to working professional.
Upon my graduation, I found a place to live and began work in Beloit, evolving from a student to a full-time, twenty-something resident. I ventured further into the city, church hopping, frequenting Suds’ weekend Happy Hours, taking walks and bike rides in scenic Riverside Park, making friends with community regulars by working shifts at a local café, and yes, perusing Beloit’s famous Farmers’ Market. As part of my job, I interact daily with the wonderful and diverse business community of the Greater Beloit region. (Just another aspect of the city about which I was wholly ignorant during my student days.) Now I see the multitude of opportunities for work, play, recreation, and quality of life that Beloit has to offer.
Beloit Business: Downtown Dash 5K and the business incubator
On May 7, I participated in my first 5K. The Greater Beloit Chamber of Commerce puts on its annual 5K on the same day as the first Farmer’s Market. This year marked the 3rd Annual Downtown Dash, and fittingly placed its starting point at Irontek, the new business incubator.
Irontek, a new addition to the Ironworks Campus along 3rd Street, houses the Greater Beloit Chamber of Commerce, among other local businesses. The incubator offers a stunningly beautiful conference space for community meetings, rents outs business space and desks to freelance writers and small business start-ups, and provides an “entrepreneurial” atmosphere for the business-minded individual. In short, a community space more than worthy of its spot in the Ironworks Corridor.
The Dash kicked off in the morning to a full crowd outside the Chamber’s headquarters. It was a beautiful run starting at Irontek along 3rd Street, looping through the spring colors of the scenic path through Riverside Park, paralleling the river and traveling across the wooden train bridge, with a refreshing breeze assisting from the water all the way back to Irontek.
Beloit Networking: the Rising Professionals
Beloit’s Rising Professionals—an organization branched from the Chamber of Commerce to promote professional growth for young people throughout the city with luncheons, networking opportunities, volunteer events, and panels—hosted the turn-around point of the Downtown Dash, cheering us on and providing water for the runners.
The RPs, as they’re fondly called, provide a fun and energizing community for the “young professional” in Beloit. I find the group and its many events highly engaging, and was happy to see familiar faces cheer me on as I clobbered over the finish line.
Beloit Life: the Beloit Farmers’ Market
As a treat to myself for completing 3.1 miles without stopping to walk (a truly astonishing fete for a regular “come-home-and-roost-on-the-couch” aficionado), I walked through the market with a friend, the sun finally shining through the clouds and the vendors cheery despite the wind threatening to upturn tents.
The Beloit Farmers’ Market boasts over 85 vendors selling local, organic, modestly-priced produce, books by local authors, hand-made crafts, jewelry, pottery and trinkets, jams, jellies, honeys, cheeses, meats, and flowers.
The early spring season boasts a variety—albeit understandably smaller variety—of yummy vegetables. I purchased a bunch of asparagus—truly some of the biggest stalks of asparagus I have ever seen!—for a modest fee, glanced at some beautiful and shiny handmade necklaces, and practically tripped over my tired running shoes on my way over to The Cheese People of Beloit cheese stand. I knew exactly what I wanted. After buying some horseradish & chive Havarti, aged gouda, and a chunk of fresh jack cheese with dill, I headed home.
Being part of Beloit after college
On the way, I reflected fondly on the perks of being a small-town regular at places like the Farmer’s Market and business-sponsored recreational events like the Downtown Dash. There’s a cherry tomato vendor that sells the sweetest, most delicious, orange grape tomatoes in the peak season of the Farmer’s Market that recognizes me when I buy two pints from him every Saturday. The cheese vendor appreciated my enthusiasm for his product. The Downtown Dash provided a chance to interact with colleagues and long-time community friends in a casual and fun way. It was a truly perfect, Beloit-centered morning, all before noon.