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Young Professionals group meets for first time Friday

GTNS photo by Grace King

 Timber Roden, with the Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber Alliance, and Elaine Tan, director of Service Learning at Iowa Wesleyan University, meet at the Young Professionals group on Friday, Feb. 1, at Central Park Coffee Company. This was the first social gathering for the group, which seeks to connect people 35 years old or younger with networking opportunities.
GTNS photo by Grace King Timber Roden, with the Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber Alliance, and Elaine Tan, director of Service Learning at Iowa Wesleyan University, meet at the Young Professionals group on Friday, Feb. 1, at Central Park Coffee Company. This was the first social gathering for the group, which seeks to connect people 35 years old or younger with networking opportunities.
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JD Klopfenstein was sipping coffee with a few other like-minded professionals a few months ago when it struck him that they should get other young people involved.

Klopfenstein, who works with Principal Financial Group, had heard that the Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber Alliance had a Young Professionals group in the past, but it had fallen by the wayside. He thought to himself, “Let’s see if we can get something going again.”

And so, the Young Professionals group was born.

The Young Professionals held a meet and greet on Friday, Feb. 1, at Central Park Coffee Company, drawing a dozen people 35 years old and younger together to network and connect.

The Young Professionals group plans to meet monthly for lunch and learns or just socially.

Mikayla Mabeus, with the Mt. Pleasant Chamber, said they are using the Chamber to launch the group, but she hopes to see other people step up and lead.

“We don’t want it to be known as a Chamber thing,” Mabeus said.

Mabeus, who has lived in Mt. Pleasant all her life, said she doesn’t know a lot of other young professionals, and the connections she will be able to meet through the group are important ones.

Cole Smith, who interned with the Chamber last year, joined Klopfenstein in his efforts to launch the Young Professionals group. Cole is now a student at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls where he studies finance and real estate. After classes Friday, he drove the two and a half hours back to Mt. Pleasant just to be a part of the first Young Professionals meet and greet.

“The connections are that important to me,” Smith said.

Smith said that if he was asked a year ago if he would move back to Mt. Pleasant after graduating college in May 2024, he would have said no. However, the more he learns about the community, the more he sees himself as a “lifelong resident” of Mt. Pleasant, Smith said.

Smith said he is a big fan of personal development and helping people become better versions of themselves. The Young Professionals group is a chance for employees in Mt. Pleasant to become “better quality people” and develop their careers, Smith said.

Elaine Tan moved from Kentucky to Mt. Pleasant September 2018 to take the position of director of service learning and academic support at Iowa Wesleyan University. Tan checked out the Young Professionals group on Friday because she saw it as a good opportunity to meet new people.

Shelby Nichting, with Two Rivers Bank & Trust, dropped by the Young Professionals group to socialize and meet other people from area businesses.

“It’s hard to get started to meet people and have conversations,” Shelby said. “Being younger in a professional field, you don’t know where to meet people and network in a small town.”

Kevin Nichting, with Farm Burea and Shelby’s husband, said that a Young Professionals group is a good way to build relationships and learn how to help each other.

Anyone interested in joining the Young Professionals group can call the Chamber at 319-385-3101.