AYPN Sticks A Fork In It, Yields to Little Rock Chamber Group

Blake’s Think Tank reported it months ago, and now it’s official. After six years and drama galore, the Arkansas Young Professionals Network is calling it quits and yielding to a new young professionals group they say will be organized and run by the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The e-mail about ending the group was sent to members this morning from President Bucky O’Mell:

Dear AYPN Member,

After over a year of financial hardships and other difficulties, the Arkansas Young Professionals Network board of directors has decided that the best course of action is to wind down the business of AYPN.  Throughout its six year history, AYPN has had its ups and downs in membership; however, a number of barriers have prevented the organization from ever achieving a sustainable level of active membership.  While this year’s group of officers has worked hard to overcome new challenges, in the end, we were faced with too steep a climb.

Fortunately, it appears another organization may soon emerge with a new networking outlet for young professionals in the Little Rock metro.  The Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce is making plans to create a new young professionals organization which would be managed by the Chamber.  I am confident that with the skills and strength of the Chamber behind it, this new structure will be able to achieve a level of success that AYPN could not, and I wish the Chamber the best of luck.  In cities around the country, the strongest young professionals organizations are those directly linked with chambers of commerce.  I have no doubt that the same will be true of our Little Rock Region.  I will keep you posted as the announcement develops.


Buckley O’Mell

AYPN re-elected a new board of directors early last year in the wake of E-mail-Gate (long story; click here), but apparently couldn’t recover (despite some award-winning(!) motherly advice from Arkansas Business Editor Gwen Moritz). The Think Tank reported in December that the group would disband and that the Little Rock Chamber would create and manage its own young professionals organization.

Here’s hoping for the chamber’s group. Economic developers increasingly see having a vibrant young professionals organization in their communities as a key part of growing and attracting business. Little Rock could definitely benefit from a strong, healthy, viable organization that provides professional networking and career development opportunities, particularly in these economic times.

UPDATE: John Baine writes to say that this leaves the Arkansas Junior Chamber of Commerce as “the only state wide organization of young professionals in Arkansas” with eight chapters across the state.

Baine is state past president of the group, which you can learn more about it www.ArkansasJaycees.org.

(A version of this post appears on The Ladder at ArkansasBusiness.com.)


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