Mayors offers insight to young leaders

Published 9:49 pm Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mayor Jimmy Lunsford and Mayor Jimmy Ramage encouraged a spirit of mentoring and community growth at the Pike County Young Professionals Luncheon Tuesday.

About 25 young professionals from the community ate sandwiches from Mama Goldberg’s and chatted with the mayors at the Studio before each gave a speech.

Ramage highlighted the industrial strides in food processing Brundidge has made, including manufacturing Dale’s Sauce, Johnny’s Honey Mustard, and several barbecue sauces. He also mentioned the various food plants that call Brundidge home, such as Southern Classic Foods and Supreme Oil.

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Because Brundidge has an industrial waste-water treatment plant, he said, the city is an ideal place for food processing.

“Brundidge is one of the few cities that have the capacity for a food processing plant,” he said in an interview.

Ramage also told his audience to make as many connections as they could, since they could lead to opportunities later.

“Who you know opens the door. What you know keeps the door open,” he said.

Lunsford continued the theme in his speech, with nods to big business and local growth in Troy.

“We have some of the fastest-growing industry and the most innovative people,” he said. He also pushed the young entrepreneurs to aim for the stars, even if they are already at the top.

“Never be satisfied,” he said. “Keep looking for it.”

Young Professionals President Steve Schmidt said the meeting fostered the group’s two main objectives: networking and community outreach. The group has 150 registered members between the ages of 21 and 45.

Schmidt said the group aims to give young people an outlet for socializing and building professional relationships.

After college, when young people hit the work force and social interaction loses its structure, they need a reason and a way to find like-minded connections.

As a 28-year-old Webmaster at Troy University, Schmidt said he knows firsthand the challenges of being in the gap between college kid and seasoned professional.

“Before Young Professionals, I’d work and go home, work and go home,” he said. He added that the group helps young people find a foothold in the community when they don’t know how to get involved.

“We’re hoping we can show them how,” he said.

Eventually, he said he hopes the group can be a connection to volunteer and non-profit groups in the area.

In an interview after the luncheon, Lunsford said the future looked bright for Pike County, judging from the people he’d seen there.

“You look into that group and see a lot of the future business leaders and political leaders,” he said.

He added that his daughter, Holly Stoltze, is one of the group’s founding members.

“She’s taken a strong interest in the continued growth of our community,” he said. “That makes me feel good.”