Often traditional approaches to “growing” local business focus only on attraction of opportunity from outside of an area. The Mount Airy Professionals of Surry (MAPS) is seeking to cultivate local young professionals with ties to the county.
According to Mount Airy Professionals of Surry President Robbie Gardner, the group is a volunteer not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing its members the opportunities to engage in social networking, philanthropy, personal and professional growth. MAPS’s mission is to promote an environment that attracts and retains professionals in Mount Airy and to develop future business, civic and community leaders.
“A lot of our members are from Mount Airy and Surry County,” said Gardner. “They grew up here, went to college and have come back. They are at different points in their professional careers. Another goal we have is to be used by the city, county and economic development groups as a group they can tap for our resources and talents.”
Gardner said MAPS also has an important fellowship component and provides a chance for like-minded professionals to have an introduction to a group setting and are often introduced to activities or businesses they may not have been aware of before.
“We now have 25 active members,” explained Gardner, who remembers the beginnings of the organization less than a year ago. “They group started out being different ideas from different people. Over the course of six months of meetings to get up and started we have become something different that those discussions, but that’s because we didn’t know what MAPS would look like. The support from the everyone in the community has been fantastic.”
One example of this process is the organization’s use of committees instead of a rigid board member structure. Gardner said MAPS now includes a professional development component for members, as well as a social committee and a membership committee.
“Last month we organized an event as part of the regional museum’s open house where a Polar Express conductor could punch a child’s ticket for the train and go see Santa,” said Gardner. “I’d say at least 50 persons who would normally have driven by the museum came in that day and were glad they did.”
Another project Gardner seems enthusiastic about is the MAPS Making Our Businesses Better (MOBB) events where members attend events which spotlight local businesses. Gardner said two local businesses MAPS visited were Trio and Uncorked on Main. He said members get to learn from local merchants about their businesses and what motivated them to become entrepreneurs and then are encouraged to spend some money while they are there.
Gardner said the group also is tracking its local spending as one way to become more aware of what is available locally which benefits from their support. He said the group is looking forward to its one-year anniversary in April and also is planning a membership drive. MAPS holds it regular meetings on the first Thursday of each month at different locations. Regular meetings usually begin at 5:30 p.m. Dues for the group are $60 annually.
“We’ve got a lot of MOBB events we’re planning and the location of the February meeting hasn’t been decided yet,” said Gardner. “We are averaging 15 to 20 members at the regular meetings, and we have become a cohesive bunch with new members at each meeting so we are growing as a group.”
Officers for the upcoming year were named at the group’s regular meeting on Thursday at the Lone Star Steakhouse in Mount Airy. Gardner was named president. Will Jackson was elected vice president, Jim Trixler will serve as treasurer and Justin Puckett will be the secretary for the organization.
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.