Young professionals gather in Fairmont

FAIRMONT — A new group targeting young professionals is organizing this month under the guidance of the Fairmont Chamber of Commerce.

“We’ve got a target participation group of 21-40 year olds, but we’re not going to exclude anyone who wants to join if they’re a couple of years outside of that. We don’t want to exclude anyone,” said Ned Koppen, Fairmont Chamber president.

The idea for the new group originated with Chamber members Jarod Mathiason of Supreme Lending and Dustin Tino of Minuteman Press.

“I didn’t search them out. They came to me. They wanted to start it up in partnership with the Chamber, and I thought it was a great idea. We shared a lot of the same ideas and goals for the group,” Koppen said.

“The goals that we came up with were for everyone to be able to build relationships, to gain skills and knowledge and to give back to the community. On the front end, it’s going to be a lot of network and social. Shortly down the road, we want to have some educational opportunities and learn more about the community.”

The initial meeting for the young professionals has been set for 4-6 p.m. Feb. 21 at Bean Town. Subsequent meetings will be held from 4-6 p.m. the third Thursday of each month at different locations.

“The venue will be dictated by the type of programming that month. They might have a speaker. They might have a place that they will go and tour,” Koppen said.

He has received a positive response after reaching out to Chamber members who have employees in both white collar and blue collar jobs and are in the designated age range.

“Anybody in that age group that works for a Chamber member can come. It is a Chamber-driven group, and everything the Chamber does is member-driven. Ultimately, you have to be a Chamber member to participate, but we do have opportunities — always — for people to come as visitors a couple of times to any of our events to figure out what things are all about,” Koppen said. “Then, if they want to join the Chamber to be part of this or any other group, that’s always an option.”

If an employer is not a Chamber member, individual memberships are available for $107 a year.

“We’ve got a number of individual members who want to participate and be a part of the Chamber for a number of different reasons,” Koppen said.

Mathiason has agreed to serve as chairman of the new group, and Tino will handle the role of secretary.

“They’re really organized and they’re really excited. This group will give young people a chance to network, to meet people who have similar interests and experiences and to learn more about the community. I’m excited to see where it goes,” Koppen said.

For more information about the young professionals group, contact the Chamber at (507) 235-5547, Mathiason at (507) 848-1902 or Tino at (507) 236-6728.