Discussing young plans

From left: Donna Martin, Courtney Dalton-Viar and Caylon Gibson-Matoy discuss plans for Young Professionals in Monroe County, a group dedicated to reaching out to those between the ages of 21-40.

If you are young, hip and cool, Monroe County will soon have a club for you to join.

Called Monroe Young Professionals, the aim of the group is to bring together people between the ages of 21-40 to help promote Monroe County as a place to work and live.

The group will be headed up by a board of seven people and is currently being put together by Donna Martin from the Monroe County Economic Development Office, Courtney Dalton-Viar from the Monroe County Finance Office and Monroe County’s United Way Director Caylen Gibson-Matoy.

“It’s being run out of the Economic Development office,” Martin said, “but all decisions will be made as a board.”

The other four board members will come from the four towns in Monroe County, to give each area proper representation.

“We’re reaching out to several people and hope to have the board in place soon,” Viar said.

Networking will be a big part of the organization and the first event of what is hoped to be many will be held May 23 at the Lakehouse Grill in Vonore.

“These events will be called ‘Live After 5,’” Matoy said. “They will start at 5:30 p.m. giving people enough time to get off work. We hope to have these events in each town on a bi-monthly or quarterly basis.”

Even though the first event will be held May 23, the group will follow the government fiscal year of July through June. There will be some government funding to get it started, but the group hopes to eventually exist through membership dues.

“Membership will be $25 a year and that grants you access to all our events where you can network, find out what is happening in the county and the chance to be around people your own age,” said Gibson.

Membership money will be used to fund meals, events and merchandise.

The group will also seek sponsorships for their events. Businesses that sponsor events as a platinum member will receive free memberships for all eligible employees and gold sponsors will receive 50-percent off employee memberships.

The group’s mission is to “attract, engage and connect emerging leaders and young professionals in Monroe County.”

Monroe County Mayor Mitch Ingram, who created the program, said, “I am very excited about engaging this wonderful group of professional, tradesman and craftsmen. These young professionals will be directing our leadership, infrastructure and day-to-day lifestyle not only in the future, but also the present. We invite anyone of any profession to take part in this wonderful new group.”

Viar said that anyone is indeed welcome.

“College educated, non-college educated, working man or boss,” she said. “We want you all there. And, you don’t have to be from Monroe County. You’re welcome from all areas.”

The group will have a sense of humor and if you are 41 years old and try to sneak in, they will find you out.

“We’ll be carding everyone,” Matoy said.

The group will have modest goals starting out, hoping to initially get 25-40 members, but would like to reach 100 members by the end of the first year. They would also like to get involved in service projects as a group.

“We want to be all over Monroe County,” Matoy said. “We really want to get young people engaged.”

Anyone with an interest in the group can email ypofmonroecounty@gmail.com or call Martin at 423-442-3652.

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