Vol 6 No. 48 - August 23, 2006

Young professionals: Learning the business of business

SUN PHOTO/PAT COPELAND
AMIYP President Will Bouziane, VP Brandy Booth, Program Director David Zacagnino and Secretary Melissa Williams meet at Duffy’s to discuss the upcoming program schedule.

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

They are the Island’s leaders for tomorrow, and they are securing their place in the business world today.

The Anna Maria Island Young Professionals group was initiated five months ago by Will Bouziane and Derek Pettigrew and has about 15 members.

"We are all in the infancy stages of our careers," Bouziane explained. "Our main mission is to protect the businesses that are here, promote them and procure business for the Island for the future. If we can get people’s attention now, we’ll be better off in the future."

Bouziane, 27, a 1997 graduate of St. Stephens School, received his undergraduate degree from Stetson University in 2000 and his MBA from Stetson in 2002. He is currently a sales associate with Boyd Realty.

"Most of us were born and raised on this Island," Bouziane said. "We love this Island and we want to promote that."

Meetings on Mondays
The group has been holding its meetings at Duffy’s Tavern, on the first Monday of the month, but meeting locations may change in the future. Meetings are currently suspended for the summer and will resume in October.

"At our meetings, we introduce new people and we have a speaker, a successful business person or government official or civic leader,” Bouziane said. “We want to focus on leadership and development.

"Developer David Teitelbaum is helping us focus our objectives and is a great support person for us. Don Schroder from the Island Chamber is also a great supporter."

The group’s vice president, Brandy Booth, executive administrative assistant at the AMI Chamber of Commerce, added, "David (Teitelbaum) is a big fan. He is helping us start a bank account. Darcie Duncan has also helped us a lot."

Members are diverse and range from real estate agents, financial consultants and attorneys to fishing guides, divers and plumbers.

Booth, who also owns her own business as a wedding coordinator, pointed out, "The group has nothing to do with age. It’s for people who are young in their businesses or starting second careers."

Booth said program director David Zaccagnino has developed an exciting schedule of programs for October through May.

In October, elected officials will explain issues affecting the Island. In November, AMI Historical Society Executive Director Sissy Quinn will tell members how they can help preserve the Island’s history. In December, the group will learn about planning parties and holiday events. In 2007 programs on investments and taxes are planned.

‘We welcome guest speakers," Booth said. "Anyone who wants to be a speaker can call me."

Projects
The group has participated in several projects. The first was to function as a support group for the second annual skateboard contest held at the Holmes Beach Skate Park in May. Members dispensed snacks and beverages and helped Mayor Carol Whitmore with the contest.

Another was to facilitate two scholarships for Island youths to the Devil Rays Baseball Camp.

A current project is a mentoring program with teens at the Island Community Center. The teens shadow one of the members during a day of work to learn about a particular career.

"I thought it was great," Zaccagnino, a Holmes Beach commissioner and financial planner, said. "There were three young men and they were very perceptive. I took them to city hall and my office. They asked great questions."

"We are doing things in the community," Booth added. "We are advocates of working with middle and high school youths who need outlets and places to go."

Booth said the group plans to have a logo and T-shirts by the end of the month, and Melissa Williams, the group’s secretary has developed a business start-up kit that soon will be available to those starting businesses on the Island.

Booth said the group has formed four committees — philanthropic, political, social and programs to work on projects. In October, the group project will manning a booth at Bayfest on Pine Avenue in Anna Maria.

To learn more or volunteer to be a guest speaker, call Booth at the Chamber of Commerce at 778-1541.

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