Young professionals forge bonds

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BY SAMUEL EVERS
Staff Writer

Sunday, April 1, 2018

At a recent event hosted by the Twin Counties Young Professionals at the Rocky Mount Mills, Kellianne Davis, a co-organizer of the group aimed towards uniting the young and working in the area, noticed a participant there because of a co-worker.

He was there because he was “dragged,” Davis said. The person, who lived in Raleigh but worked in Rocky Mount, figured to put in his 30 minutes and leave. A few hours later, he was checking his watch, forcing himself to head back home.

“He’s like, ‘Dang,’” Davis said, laughing. “I’ve got to get back, I have to work tomorrow.”

As a whole, that’s the type of vibe Davis and co-organizer Desiree Dolberry hope to put out — the vibe they’ve been aiming for since launching the group in August 2015 as an offshoot of the region’s Here’s to Success campaign. It has since grown into a networking group of events and get-togethers with a newsletter chain 600 people strong.

About 250 people attended an event called Amonkst the Art — a play on words as a tribute to Rocky Mount native Thelonious Monk — at the Imperial Centre this past fall, and networking-focused nights at the Booker T. Theater and Edgecombe Community College each drew in the hundreds.

So far in the first handful of years, both Dolberry and Davis have been surprised by a realization that there are more of this demographic than each initially thought.

“It seems like young people here find their own co-workers, their own corner of the world and stay there and assume that that’s all there is. The native young people stay with the other natives in the area. The transplants stay with their new transplant group,” Davis said. “What was really cool in that first meeting in August three years ago was this revelation that there’s more of us than we think there are.”

A large part of what the group aims to do, Dolberry said, is expose the types of hidden gems in Nash and Edgecombe counties that might not get the type or foot traffic they might deserve. Places like Tarboro Brewing Co., Tarboro Coffee House and Michael’s Showside Grill in Spring Hope all came to mind.

Once there, the conversation may be about what someone likes about the area, whether it be affordability, a sense of community or living near but not in a big city like Raleigh.

“Maybe if there’s a new shop coming, we’ll reach out to them and see if there’s interest to host something,” Dolberry said. “To have young professionals come to see what their business is about — that bridges the gap in terms of communication with these places.”

And of course, if all else may fail, there’s one place that has put a jolt into event planning: the Mills.

“The Rocky Mount Mills have been a Godsend,” Davis said. “If we were very successful in shining a light on some places, it’s always nice now with the Mills as a go-to, no-brainer where everyone is going to have a great time.”

“It’s something easy to promote, it’s something that’s easy for folks to be ambassadors of — so our young professionals group loves to go there. Every event we have is well attended at the Mills. You’re talking to your friends in Raleigh and you say, ‘Oh you know, Showside Grill is a great hole in the wall. But to be able to say, ‘Hey, not only can we go to that hole in the wall, we can drive 15 minutes to this really jumping spot.”

A full slate of events are scheduled for the next few months, including a free comedy show on April 6 at the Booker T. Theater. More information can be found on the group’s Facebook page.

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