Sea Grant hosts young professionals meetup

It’s rare that young professionals have an occasion to convene and network in Grays Harbor County, but efforts by the Washington Sea Grant are looking to change that.

Harbor Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs, a new group formed by Sea Grant Coastal Outreach Specialist Kevin Decker, is hosting “First Thursday,” a meet and greet for young workers in Grays Harbor Thursday evening at Hoquiam Brewing Co.

Decker said he felt inspired to host social events for young professionals after he studied the local economy and noticed a dearth of opportunities for the demographic to collaborate with each other.

“Having opportunities to meet new people and exchange ideas and business doesn’t really exist, especially for that demographic,” said Decker. “This area has a lot of seasonal employment, a lot of people struggle financially, but many of them have side hustles and gigs they do.”

The Facebook event page for the meetup describes it as a “fun, purely social event with no agenda other than meeting other young professionals.”

Aside from not having opportunities to connect, Decker also noticed that many young people move out of the region before getting settled into work, another area HYPE hopes to improve.

“When you look at this county, you see there are a lot of young families moving out of the area,” he said. “If you can help those people develop roots and attachment to the community, they’re less likely to leave.”

Washington Sea Grant is an arm of the University of Washington and primarily aims at protecting and improving coastal marine environments through research, but it also partners with local communities to improve their economies and prepare them for any natural hazards such as tsunamis. They also collaborate with federal and state officials on certain projects.

Prior to moving to Grays Harbor in 2014, Decker said he participated in a young professionals group in Boise that was instrumental to his success and motivated him to start such a group here. According to him, there was a young professionals group in Grays Harbor eight years ago, but it didn’t have much energy to keep going.

His hope is that this will be the first of many “First Thursday” of the month events, and that they will eventually feature guest speakers or entertainment. The get-together runs Nov. 2 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Hoquiam Brewery and will have food and drinks available for purchase.