APR. 11, 2016 - VOL. 51 No. 7

Chair's Column
New Members
Member Anniversaries
Cover Story
Other News
Faces & Places
Ribbon Cuttings
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By Amy Smolik
Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce

Collectively, the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Network is made up of more than 1,000 members who have opportunities to participate in a variety of events, ranging from developmental to social. Within that membership are individuals from all backgrounds, employment areas, education and experiences.

In 2009, the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce created a Young Professionals Network to engage the next generation of leaders in the Sioux Falls community and to help them develop their skills needed to succeed in their chosen professions. In the last seven years, the YPN has grown to a solid network of more than 1,000 members who have opportunities to participate in a variety of events, ranging from developmental to social.

Members have access to unique events and contact with community leaders and elected officials. Events take place at a variety of times to meet nearly every schedule. Membership is open to individuals between the ages of 21-39 who come from different backgrounds and professions. YPN members are also invited and encouraged to attend Chamber events.

The YPN Steering Committee, which is also made up of a variety of YPN members and assists in setting the programs and events along with Chamber staff, wanted to showcase the individuals who make up the membership. Later this month a video series called "I am YPN" will debut, which profiles YPN members.

"Our hope is to provide a glimpse into who our members are as individuals in a unique and fun fashion," said Steering Committee member Sadie Bell, First Bank & Trust.

Questions will range from the lighthearted, "Soup or salad?" – to more thought-provoking, "Who inspires you?"

"We believe that this fresh approach is a great way to give members a platform from which to shine in a personalized setting. Plus, it will allow us to showcase the diversity of our YPN membership," she said.

Bell also said the goal is to help increase membership awareness, encourage growth and brand YPN as "the" group for young professionals to join in the Sioux Falls area. The videos will be released via social media.

Here is a sampling of just some of the members who make up the YPN. Want to learn more? Attend a YPN event - go to for a complete calendar of events.

I Am Matt Sage

Age: 32
Director of Local Marketing Solutions, KELOLAND TV
Hometown: Sioux Falls, SD

I love how the Sioux Falls Young Professionals Network Facebook page keeps me informed on what is happening in the local business community and also provides professional development tips throughout the week. From sharing information on how to manage my money to learning how to more effectively communicate in the office, the YPN social media accounts provide me with excellent tips on how to make me a better employee and better contributor to the local business community.

Even though YPN provides events to network, learn and become leaders in our business community throughout the week, their message and vision does not stop there. People in today´s world, and especially young professionals, want to be connected and informed constantly – YPN provides this through their social media platforms. It can be extremely hard to navigate through all the online resources to help you grow in your career, but the YPN social media platforms have helped me find the most important information for young professionals. Above all, the YPN Facebook page has become something I check daily, because I know it has helped me become better both professionally and personally.

I Am Christie Aberson

Age: 32
Business Banker,
Great Western Bank
Hometown: Sioux Falls, SD

Most people have heard of YPN´s social activities like our Off the Clocks, Birthday Bash (don´t miss this in April!) or Annual Golf Tournament. YPN provides a plethora of networking opportunities, but often overlooked are the personal and professional development events and insider access to business and city leaders.

A Seat at the Table is a small gathering of up to 25 members where you hear firsthand experiences from leaders like Eric McDonald, Melissa Johnson, Craig Lloyd and Addie Graham-Kramer. Don´t hesitate to sign up when you see these events pop up, they fill up quickly.

Another opportunity, YPN Community Connections Tours, provides insider access to city wide plans and businesses. Manufacturing Week last fall provided an up close look at companies like Marmen Energy and Graco.

Personally, my favorite part of being a member is by volunteering my time on the Social Team. This is where I get to know members first-hand, make group decisions on where to provide networking opportunities, and help plan socials and golf tournaments. For me, a smaller group setting is easier to make connections with other members, and then when I go to larger events like the Birthday Bash or Off the Clocks, I often recognize some familiar faces.

I Am Amber Schwiesow

Age: 31
Director of Business Operations,
Midco Business
Hometown: Guadalajara, Mexico

I never saw the value in networking until I found myself in a city I didn´t know, and I realized that all the friendships and relationships I had made were with co-workers. This is not a bad thing, but it can be very isolating. I went to work, I did well at my job and I went home. I wasn´t feeling very connected to the people around me nor to my community.

I had a co-worker invite me to a YPN event, and I immediately knew that I wanted to get more involved. Everyone seemed so successful and happy. Since joining the YPN, I have become a Steering Committee member and have had the opportunity to participate in so many great events and have created an amazing network of people I would have otherwise never met. These people have become my sounding board, my business resources and most importantly, my friends. The thing I love the most about the YPN is that it gets you outside of your comfort zone in a comfortable way. You participate in what you want to participate in and there is no pressure. The YPN has such a wide variety of events that I have done things that I would not have otherwise tried. I wouldn´t be where I am today without the people and the experiences the YPN has brought me.

I Am Larry Luetke

Age: 34
Broker Associate,
Keller Williams Realty
Hometown: Yankton, SD

Ever since YPN had their kick-off I have been involved in some capacity. I think I was glad that there was finally something that I could be part of as a young professional to make an impact in the community. I saw myself quickly getting involved in anything I could do with the group (Golf League, marketing committee, social committee and all kinds of professional development workshops just to name a few). I would say that at the start of joining YPN really helped me expand my network in Sioux Falls. I also met some great people who now are some of my best friends, clients and business partners. It has also helped me make connections with some key people in Sioux Falls business community that I know I would have never made. The last couple of years I have served on the YPN Steering Committee. This has helped me to get to know some of the future key players that will help this city grow into even a better city in the future and show that we can all work together to do so even if we don´t all agree – a valuable lesson to learn at a younger age then later in life. Looking back over the years of being part of the YPN I can say that I really wouldn´t be where I am today with my involvement in the YPN. It has helped me to grow personally, in my businesses and my leadership into the community.

YPN Events & Activities

Attending Sioux Falls Young Professionals Network (YPN) events are a great way to learn more about the community and build professional relationships. YPN members have access to inside information about community issues, networking opportunities with business leaders, unique learning experiences and a chance to help grow and improve the Sioux Falls area. The YPN offers a variety of events and programs to meet the needs of young professionals – at all stages of their personal and professional life. YPN members can attend any event or program organized by the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce or YPN. Registration is required. Visit for the latest events.

Learn more about the community where you live and work through programs that give details behind major infrastructure projects and issues impacting your quality of life.

Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy conversations with other young professionals before heading into the office. This event is an opportunity for young professionals to exchange business cards, discuss what is going on in the community and network with one another.

Gain access to some of the prominent business and community leaders in the Sioux Falls area. Understand the path that leaders took to get to where they are today. Ask questions, listen and engage in an ongoing dialogue with leaders in our community.

This biennial event for young professionals brings top-notch keynote speakers, valuable breakout sessions and plenty of networking opportunities for young professionals from across the region. The Summit is held every other year and will next take place in August 2017

These events are organized by the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and other community organizations. Open to the public, these forums offer an opportunity for citizens to gain a better understanding of the issues and the candidates in our community. Most recently, YPN hosted a Candidate Social with the 12 candidates running for Sioux Falls City Council seats.

In conjunction with the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce´s Inside Washington series, we ask our congressional representatives to make time to visit exclusively with young professionals outside of the Chamber event. This event is open to YPN members only.

Get the lowdown on issues affecting policy at the local, state and national levels. These events are often held at a bar or pub.

Each month YPN offers the opportunity for young professionals to network with one another, off the clock. This event is open to all young professionals and offers individuals the chance to mix, mingle and exchange business cards.

This 10-week league allows members to play with different individuals each week and rotates between Chamber-member golf courses each week. Space is limited and is open to YPN members only. Tee times vary and will always be between 5:30-6:30 p.m.

The tournament is an 18-hole event with pin prizes, networking and plenty of fun! The tournament is open to YPN members and non-members of all skill levels

Take a break midday to network with your peers. Join fellow YPN members for lunch and conversations. Locations rotate each month.

Each year the Sioux Falls Young Professionals Network celebrates the formation of the YPN. Our anniversary celebration is an opportunity to network, exchange business cards and socialize with young professionals in our community.

Get in the holiday spirit with other young professionals at the evening cocktail party held in the height of the holiday season. The Kringle is held in December and offers the opportunity for young professionals to mix and mingle.

I Am Jered Schock

Age: 36
Account Manager,
Hometown: Sioux Falls, SD

I joined the YPN when it was founded with the goal of meeting like-minded professionals in the Sioux Falls area. Because I have worked in information technology my entire career, I am more limited in my interaction with those outside of my industry. YPN has offered me the opportunity to meet many new people, develop friendships and grow my business.

YPN also provides a unique opportunity to meet with leaders from area non-profits, businesses and public service. These interactions have enhanced my growth as a leader and encouraged me to get more involved in positions of leadership at Embrace Church and the Sioux Falls Downtown Lions Club.

The events hosted by YPN, especially the Crossroads Summit, always provide excellent content and great speakers. Anyone under the age of 39 and looking to grow their network of quality people personally or professionally should join the YPN.

YPN is a great way to find out what others in your community are doing that in a similar stage of their professional career.

I Am Aaron Clayton

Age: 33
Eide Bailly LLP
Hometown: Parkston, SD

The Sioux Falls YPN has been great way for me to get involved in the community. The nice thing about the events hosted by YPN is that there is something for everyone. I have really enjoyed the opportunity to network with other professionals at Off the Clock, the golf tourney and the many other events hosted by YPN. When I started working in Sioux Falls, I had a small group of friends and classmates from college that I knew and stayed in touch with. I quickly realized how important it was to grow that network. That is when I joined YPN.

Getting involved with YPN was a great opportunity for me to meet new people, learn about new businesses and make new friendships through the YPN events. Being an active member of YPN has not only benefitted me both professionally, but also personally through the relationships I have built. Learning more about the Sioux Falls area and the businesses that support this great community has been vital in helping me call this area "home."

I Am Erin Schoenbeck

Age: 24
Gift Planning Officer,
Catholic Community Foundation for Eastern South Dakota
Hometown: Watertown, SD

The value of the Chamber´s Young Professional Network is twofold. First, it provides an opportunity to share conversations and libations with like-minded professionals who share the same goal of improving our community of Sioux Falls. Second, it allows for personal and professional growth through an abundance of events aimed at increasing our knowledge of citywide "happenings."

Personally, I find value in the unique opportunities YPN provides that I would otherwise not be able to experience. These opportunities offer behind the scenes looks at Chamber businesses like Coffea Roasterie, Fernson Brewing Company, the State Theater, to name a few. These stories of individuals who started out with a dream and used that passion to create a successful local business inspire me to follow my own passions. YPN provides a foundation and the tools young professionals, like us, need to achieve our goals. There is no value that can be placed on waking up every morning and going to a career you love.

I Am Joe Millar

Age: 26
Project Director,
Sioux Falls Sports Authority
Hometown: Platte, SD

What´s the most valuable thing about YPN? That´s easy! It´s the people. I have been a member of YPN for around two years now and have made countless connections with other great young professionals in our great community. From going to Off the Clocks and Morning Buzzes, to being a member of the Steering Committee, YPN has helped me appreciate our community and the amazing people that call it home.

As someone new to Sioux Falls or YPN, it´s easy to be intimidated by thought of getting involved and going to these events – I know I was at first. That intimidation was short-lived as about five minutes into my first Off the Clock I realized how awesome and welcoming everyone was! At the end of the day we are all at these events for the same reason, to grow our network and grow as a professional!

Joining YPN has been a great decision for me and I urge anyone who is not a member to join today! 

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