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    By Ashley Downing

    “How can I make an impact as a young professional?” That important question was asked and answered during a recent young professionals event held in the Upstate.

    “It’s all about attitude of service,” said Todd Horne, Vice President of Clayton Construction Company, to a crowd of more than 280 young professionals during the PIQUE: Young Leaders Elevating the Upstate, an inaugural event hosted by Ten at the Top on Monday March 7, 2016 in downtown Greenville. “If you give something all you’ve got, it doesn’t matter how much experience you have… young professionals have a right to be at the table.”

    The population of young professionals (ages 18-39) in the Upstate of South Carolina is growing at a rapid rate and it is important for our generation to gather regularly, share ideas, and discuss how to work together as we become the future leaders of the region. The PIQUE included personal and professional development workshops, networking opportunities with seasoned executives, and discussions on the impact we can make in our communities now.

    The Upstate is home to numerous organized young professional groups that are dedicated to fostering innovative ideas and the desire to be engaged personally and professionally. The PIQUE intentionally brought those groups together to help build relationships and begin the dialogue on how young professionals can collectively make a difference across the Upstate both today and into the future.

    It’s easy to box ourselves into our own corners of the world, but by breaking down barriers and thinking regionally, we can do more by including all the counties that make up the Upstate. We have a common goal: make the Upstate a great place to live, learn, do business, and raise a family. So why not work together? The PIQUE has opened doors for emerging young leaders to connect and collaborate to ensure the entire region continues to grow. As young professionals, we have an opportunity and we have to take it.

    Our generation is known for being bold, innovative, and bursting with energy and passion. THAT is how we make an impact. New ideas and new perspectives are vital to moving our region forward. Take Brandy Amidon, for example, who has not settled for just a career. Brandy is a Travelers Rest native, a CPA with her own company and she has branded herself as “the trusted money lady.” She is now the mayor pro tem of Travelers Rest and is serving as a member of City Council for her third term. By leading initiatives such as the “Before I Die Wall” community vibrancy project and also being a dedicated member of Let’s Keep TR Beautiful, Brandy is a young wife and mother who is on fire for her community.

    According to John Lummus, President and CEO of the Upstate SC Alliance, who participated in the PIQUE panel discussion, “There are plenty of opportunities for young professionals, from leadership programs, to city and county council, to chambers of commerce, to non-profit board of directors… there are opportunities, you just have to do it.” By showing up, by showing initiative and a willingness to speak up, we prove our worth. Network, volunteer, make yourself known and you will be remembered. The 280+ young professionals that attended the PIQUE, have taken the first step, will you?

    The bottom line, young professionals have passion. We may not be able to bring traditional support to the table, but we can bring creative ideas and devotion. Ten at the Top Chairman Hank McCullough says, “The best thing you can do is find your passion. If you find your passion, you will find a way to make a difference.”

    The first-ever PIQUE would not have been complete without a networking reception that allowed attendees to enjoy local foods and craft beers while meeting other young professionals from across the Upstate. Special thanks to Growler Haus for coordinating an exceptional beer testing from five Upstate breweries and to Feed & Seed and Papi’s Tacos for providing excellent food for the evening.

    The energy, excitement, and understanding that individually and collectively young professionals can make an impact in our community was a clear takeaway from the PIQUE. Plans are already underway to make #thePIQUE17 even better, so stay tuned.

    Ashley Downing is a Greenville native and Clemson graduate. She serves as the Communications Manager for Ten at the Top.