BURTON — City web developer Brad Johnson thinks the timing is right for Burton area young professionals to band together.
Johnson, who runs his own website company Energy Web Design, and other local entrepreneurs ages 25-40 have decided to put together a Jaycees chapter, or junior chamber of commerce.
“There could be a need for it here,” he said, citing the close proximity of more than 30,000 students in the Flint area.
“We need that energy and new ideas,” said Burton Chamber of Commerce Director Vaughn Smith. “[Our area] has to decide what we’re going to be because we don’t know anymore.”
Smith maintains that the recent mass loss of automobilerelated jobs has sapped many people of their entrepreneurial ability and new jobs need to be generated by creating new local businesses.
“For us to reinvigorate the local area, we need the input of young people,” said Smith, who says that Jaycees differ from a traditional chamber because what works for the customary 40 and up crowd in a traditional chamber might not work for the Jaycees.
“It has to come with the youth. We need more of that age group involved,” said Mayor Paula Zelenko, a former Davison Jaycees member, adding: “We’re losing our young people.”
A typical Jaycees chapter is a blend of social outlet, community service and business networking. Unlike the Burton Chamber of Commerce, which holds meetings in the early morning, Jaycees business is conducted in the evenings once per month with weekly mixers interspersed.
Ryan Doyle, resident and former Jaycee member, remembers hosting Vegas nights, Easter egg hunts and bowl-a-thons in addition to fundraising by serving beer at Frankenmuth’s World Expo of Beer. He says to have young people give their time, the organization has to be fun.
“There’s no place like home but you have to create opportunity here,” says Johnson, who moved back to the area after living in South Carolina and came back to stunted job options in Michigan. Johnson was involved with a Jaycees chapter while living out-of-state and says he’s been able to maintain friendships with people he met through the organization.
To ensure a charter for people involved with the Burton area Jaycees, the club has to have 20 members within 90 days of requesting the charter.
The Burton Area Jaycees plan on holding an inaugural meeting on Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. at Sharky’s Sports Bar and Grill on Center Road.
For more information on the Burton Area Jaycees, or to request information on joining the group, visit their Facebook pageor call Brad Johnson at 810- 730-8917.