• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Chamber forms young professionals' group

The Woodford County Chamber of Commerce is looking for a few good . professionals. Chamber Executive Director Don Vizi, who's forming the Woodford County Young Professionals Network, said he's put the same sort of group together for other chambers. "One of the things I found is that most chambers have an older generation running the boards and things like that . and what we've found is a lot of young people would like to learn more about what is happening in the community ." Vizi said. "Our thing is to gear them into taking over, eventually ." Vizi said the young professionals' groups he's formed in other communities have "worked out tremendously. The young professionals now have a way of talking with the mayor, the judge, the police chief and things like that, where they learn more about what's happening in the community." Vizi said members of the group will be encouraged to serve on other boards and volunteer groups, which will also serve as good networking opportunities with other young people. Last Friday, Vizi said an email sent earlier in the week to the chamber's 280 members led nine to respond by saying they'd like to join the new group. "That's just great. That (the email) just went out to the membership, and we're opening this up to other young professionals in town," Vizi said. Non chamber-members would first have to pay $75 to join the chamber, Vizi said. "(They'll be) part of the young professionals, plus they get invited to go to all the lunches for $75, so they get a free lunch every month ." Vizi said with a laugh. (Chamber members of all ages are also invited to ribbon-cuttings for new businesses and members of the chamber, at which they'll also get free food and a chance to pet Ansel the Ribbon-Cutting Dog.) The recruitment effort is also designed to strengthen the chamber by attracting new, younger members. "Exactly. Because there's a lot of new ideas out there on various things, and sometimes we don't get to see them. And people wonder, 'Why are they doing this or why don't they do that," and I think with the young professionals, they at least can voice their opinions to me about things and I, in turn, can take it to the board. Or they can voice their opinions to some of the CEOs they will have come speak to us," Vizi said. Among the 'CEOs' scheduled to address the chamber are Woodford County Judge-Executive John Coyle, Sheriff Wayne Wright, Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning Commission director Pattie Wilson, and John Soper, chairman of the Woodford County Economic Development Authority. "Probably some of these young professionals have no idea what is planning and zoning and what are zoning requirements for different (areas)," Vizi said. "They may not know about the drug problem, if we have a drug problem." Vizi said the group should be a plus for the entire county. "It's just something I think is really going to help the community, to get these young people more involved in what's happening here," Vizi said.

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