The chamber is an organization of members—including businesses, individuals and other organizations—that work together to promote the growth, development, prosperity and image of the community.

If asked for a quick answer, many people would say that a Chamber of Commerce is an organization that promotes a community. That’s true, but more specifically the chamber is an organization of members—including businesses, individuals and other organizations—that work together to promote the growth, development, prosperity and image of the community.

The Sleepy Eye Area Chamber of Commerce, with more than 130 members, does all this and also provides its members with a variety of networking and professional development opportunities.

“The chamber’s focus is to promote, educate and advocate for its membership in Sleepy Eye,” said Trista Barka, Chamber Executive Director. Over the last few years the Sleepy Eye Chamber has developed additional opportunities for members to benefit through their in-volvement in the chamber.

One of those opportunities is B2B, the Business to Business Education and Networking luncheon, which the chamber holds quarterly. Barka explained that at B2B events chamber member businesses present information on the nature of their business, their target market and what items or services they offer.

“Our intention is to help drive more business and possible referrals to our chamber members through a greater understanding of what the businesses have to offer,” said Barka. She said that 50 to 60 business people generally attend the luncheons.

“We’re also offering educational and professional develop-ment programs to add more value to chamber membership,” said Barka. Program topics have included “The Changing Land-scape of Marketing,” “The Dynamics of Change,” and “Emergency Preparedness.” Barka said plans are in progress for future offerings.

This past year the Sleepy Eye Chamber was instrumental in starting the Sleepy Eye Young Professionals Group. The vision for the group was to create an organization that would attract and retain young professionals in the Sleepy Eye area.

“The group formed as a response to the number of young people moving back to Sleepy Eye or newly locating here,” said Barka. “We wanted to engage them in the community and provide opportunities for networking and professional and personal development.”

Quarterly events are planned that provide members with opportunities to connect personally, advance professionally, and actively support local business and community growth.

Last month the Young Professionals held a lunch and learn seminar titled Bridging Gener-ational Differences, presented by extension educator Catie Rasmussen.

Future events include a joint outing with New Ulm’s young pro-fessional group, H.Y.P.E., in May; a summer picnic in August and an educational offering on financial and invest-ment information in November.

“Joining the Sleepy Eye Young Professionals has led to a number of valuable experiences for me, including devel-oping professional relationships and valuable skill sets,” said Mikayla Mages. “But personally, I think the best part of being involved comes down to community. An amazing sense of pride for our community and the organizations we belong to fills the room whenever we meet. I’m excited to see how we channel this passion and build up our workplaces and community.”

The Sleepy Eye Young Professionals Group is for talented, enthu-siastic, and community-minded individuals in their 20s, 30s, 40s and/or developing in their careers. Members must work and/or live in Sleepy Eye. Barka encourages anyone interested in joining the group to contact her at the Chamber office, 507-794-4731, or contact members Emily Krzmarzick, ekrzmarzick@schwartzfarms.net or Mikayla Mages at 507-794-8475, or mmages@semedical center.org.

More information about Sleepy Eye Young Professionals can be found at www.sleepyeye chamber.com or on Facebook, Sleepy Eye Young Professionals.