EPIC celebrates second year with ‘Birthday Bash’Written by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
EPIC Toledo will celebrate its second annual Birthday Bash at 7 p.m. Feb. 6 in the Fifth Third Center Concourse at One SeaGate.
EPIC stands for “Engaging People, Inspiring Change,” and is a program of the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce formed in 2007 to involve younger business people in the community.
“EPIC was formed to answer the brain drain, to show the community there is a lot of diverse young talent here and to create a medium for them,” said EPIC Director Paulette Cousino.
Today with more than 1,050 members representing its 50 corporate sponsors and other local firms, EPIC keeps growing in Toledo, Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan. The organization is split evenly between male and female members, most between the ages of 24 and 36, but up to 60 with no age limit for membership.
“Membership is based on attitude, not age,” Cousino said.
“We’ve just scratched the surface. We’re opening EPIC to anyone who wants to become involved in being positive and moving forward with the next generation of business leaders,” said Jake Cox, a client executive with The Hylant Group.
Cox is chairman of EPIC’s advisory council for 2009. The group is comprised of action teams in the areas of community involvement, cultural arts, economic development, marketing, membership, leadership and professional development, networking and public affairs.
“It’s really about the membership telling us what they want and what direction to take in the community,” said Matthew Yarder of The Yarder Manufacturing Co., a fourth-generation family-owned business. “Involvement is based on individual members’ desires and interests.”
EPIC is a structure for developing young leadership for the future, created and supported by the chamber of commerce and its corporate sponsors.
“We all make up the community and care about its future. We work with people who are self-motivated to do things beyond their self-interest,” said Julia Habrecht, director of philanthropy for Leadership Toledo, a nonprofit group that fosters regional community involvement.
“We want to bring more positive people together who care about what happens to the community,” Cox said. “We want to make it here, and there’s no reason why we can’t. The excitement for Toledo is contagious.”
EPIC is cooperating with the chamber, the Regional Growth Partnership and nonprofits working in the community to make a difference, according to Cousino.
These members agreed that EPIC tries to remain a bipartisan organization that educates and informs its members about local candidates and issues. They have had some discussions with the Take Back Toledo group, but EPIC has not taken any position on that campaign.
“We expect more for the future of Toledo and we want to be part of the new direction,” Cox said.
“We’re an information pool for our membership,” said Samantha Scott, communications coordinator for EPIC. EPIC brought the Young Democrats and Young Republicans together to conduct a political discussion and straw poll for the 2008 election.
“We have to represent the diversity of our membership and maintain our responsibility to our corporate sponsors,” Habrecht said.
Habrecht said EPIC and Leadership Toledo are working with students in 34 area high schools to get them more involved in their community.
“We have a great group of teenagers who are interested in making Toledo better,” she said.
Earlier this month, EPIC held its annual meeting where the advisory council discussed its goals and aspirations for the year. The group wants to encourage further development of local businesses through education and community involvement.
“Our corporate membership in EPIC Toledo reflects our commitment to the growth and stability of our community,” said Bob LaClair, president and CEO of Fifth Third Bank in Northwestern Ohio. “We realize our strength as a company and community partner is in getting our employees engaged and involved. They are the future leaders of both.”
EPIC invites the community to join its Birthday Bash that will include a band, food, cash bar, fun and games. The cost is $5 for EPIC members and $10 for nonmembers. Register online at www.epictoledo.com.