Young Professionals Address Economic Committee

OCEAN CITY – The Young Professionals of Ocean City met with members of the Economic Development Committee (EDC) at a meeting Wednesday in an effort to attract millennials and support from local businesses.

Young Professionals member Chrissy Maddy told business owners at the meeting of the group’s activities and its purpose for gathering.

“One of our main focus points with the Young Professionals is building important relationships and we achieve that through networking,” she said. “What we look at is being more of a people connector.”

Danielle Bellante, an Ocean City transplant and employee at the Carousel Resort Hotel, told EDC members she originally joined the organization last year to meet new people, but explained that it also helped her develop her skills.

“There is so much more to the Young Professionals than originally meets the eye,” she said. “It has also helped me grow as a professional, in feeling better about myself, and my purpose in this town.”

In addition to the monthly morning meetings and networking mixers, Bellante said guest speakers teach members how to develop and apply their skills in the workplace.

Attendee Melanie Pursel, executive director for the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, encouraged other EDC members to send their young employees to the monthly meetings.

“A lot of times when you are in your 20s you don’t have that liberty to say, ‘Hey I’m going to a meeting,’” she said. “They need the support of their leadership, their owners, and their management. So that is one of the things I really encourage.”

Young Professionals member Anna O’Neill said businesses can also support any of the three events they plan to host this year – the Empty Bowl Project, a March of Dimes fundraiser, and the organization’s Christmas Spirit Campaign.

“One thing that is important for the Young Professionals is providing the opportunity to participate in the community, whether through volunteering or fundraising,” she said. “We are looking to be really active in what is happening around Ocean City.”

She added that the organization is looking for businesses in the area to provide monetary and in-kind donations to its annual events.

“Please continue to support the growth and the effort of this group,” she said. “We have a lot of goals for this year.”

Annemarie Dickerson, co-owner of the Francis Scott Key Family Resort, told other EDC members that the Young Professionals bring to mind a concerning issue for the state.

As a member of the Maryland Economic Development Commission and Rankings Subcommittee, Dickerson noted that Maryland struggles to retain its young workers.

“Maryland really hasn’t been in a great place to recognize the needs of our millennials and how they are changing and turning,” she said.

She added that it was interesting to see what the Ocean City community is doing to address those issues.

Ballante told EDC members that millennials are expected to make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2030 and are looking to prior generations for their support.

“The purpose of the Young Professionals is to continue that sense of unity that you all have worked so hard to build that our younger generations sometimes lack,” she said. “We know how much your businesses, and yourselves in general, do for this town and the point of us being here today is really to say that the Young Professionals can also give back to you.”

Pursel told EDC members that the Young Professionals’ monthly newsletters and social media activity could be used to promote businesses’ events and Maddy encouraged owners and leaders to speak with and meet the group at its monthly mixers.

“You don’t have to be a certain age,” Maddy said. “It’s a state of mind.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.