Young Professionals sparks innovative networking in RutlandCourtney Parker / STAFF PHOTO
Bruce Bouchard, executive director of the Paramount Theatre, speaks to the Rutland Young Professionals group at a recent mixer.
Transformation is on the horizon for the Rutland region as a group of ambitious young community members known as Rutland Young Professionals work to bring together individuals in the local area to connect, grow and help build Rutland’s future.
Founded this past June, the new social and professional networking group provides a unique avenue for young people to join together and raise awareness for needs in the community, while encouraging idea sharing and collaborative events.
“I am tired of hearing people say there aren’t any young professionals in the area,” said co-organizer Katye Munger.
The group, which plans monthly mixers with a relaxed atmosphere, is opened to all community members, though generally attracts people between the ages of 20 and 40, looking to network and create change.
While similar efforts to bring together comparable groups have failed in the past, the dedicated and passionate volunteers behind Rutland Young Professionals are determined to stick around for the long term.
“We are the future of Rutland and this area,” said Munger, “It is incredibly important that we get involved and interested in what is happening in our community.”
Two mixers already on the books in downtown Rutland attracted more than 60 attendees at each.
Sara DeLance of Heritage Family Credit Union was quick to join the group. DeLance followed a similar Burlington Young Professionals organization and enjoyed watching the group’s impact on the community. The group inspired her to become involved in the Rutland organization.
“I was thrilled to have met a handful of young professionals working in the Rutland community,” she said of her first mixer experience.
Along with the array of new contacts and connections made at the event, DeLance said the mixer offered an opportunity to make a difference in the region.
“Ideally this group of young professionals, in time, will emerge into our community’s future leaders,” she said. “I can only hope that the connections made among us will challenge our forward thinking and innovation as we grow within our own professions and continue to bring new life and sustainability to our region.”
In addition to networking opportunities the event also includes, door prizes, announcements and guest speakers.
Prominent Rutland figures, such as Steve Costello, of Green Mountain Power, and Bruce Bouchard, of the Paramount Theatre, have spoken at mixers, sharing advice and support with the group.
“They are the future,” said Bouchard, who’s comical, yet inspiring speech at the August mixer had attendees on their feet. “They are the ones who are going to continue working to make Rutland a vibrant place.”
He said he was thrilled at the opportunity to speak to such a unique and motivated audience and offered suggestions to help in the transformation of the area.
While Bouchard agrees there is much growth still to come in the community, he said he believes the professionals group is a step in the right direction.
“The most important thing is keeping young professionals in Rutland,” he said.
Moving forward, Rutland Young Professionals plan to continue hosting monthly mixers and hope to further expand their networking base.
“Rutland is moving in the right direction,” Munger said. “There is a great energy here and a lot of very wonderful people of all ages that are transforming the way Rutland is perceived. If we continue to work together and build a stronger Rutland, we can be the Rutland that we all deserve.”
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