Norman NEXT, a Norman Chamber supported organization comprised of young professionals 21 to 40 years of age, will celebrate its two year anniversary in April. The organization was launched in April 2008 and has experienced great success and an overwhelming response from the Norman community. Today, Norman NEXT has more than 160 members and six Community Partners, including a-Peel, Arvest Bank, First American Bank, Moore Norman Technology Center, Norman Chamber of Commerce and Republic Bank & Trust. Visit Norman NEXT online at NormanNEXT.com.

A Successful year in review

Over the past year, Norman NEXT has hosted more than 25 events, consisting of monthly roundtable luncheons and social networking events. Every other month, Norman NEXT invites speakers from the Norman community to speak to the young professionals about diverse topics at a roundtable luncheon.

Over the past year, speakers have included Maj. Gen. Rita Aragon, Hal Ezzell and Steve Lewis from the City of Norman, Kevin Kloesel with the National Weather Center, University of Oklahoma Athletics Director Joe Castiglione, NPS Superintendent Joe Siano, First Lady Kim Henry, Darrel Voss with Norman Regional Health System and Dr. Paul Risser from the OU Research Cabinet.

In May 2009, Norman NEXT hosted a CEO roundtable luncheon which included Hal Smith of Hal Smith Restaurant Group, Brian Campbell from Chickasaw Nation Industries, Randy Lafoon with Sportstalk 1400 The REF, Gene McKown with Ideal Homes and Robin Allen with Fancy That.

In place of the February 2010 roundtable luncheon, Norman NEXT hosted an evening mayoral debate at the City of Norman that featured mayoral candidates Cindy Rosenthal and Hal Ezzell. Th debate, co-hosted with the Chamber, was one of the best attended debates in several years.

With an average of 50 current and prospective Norman NEXT members in attendance each month, the roundtable luncheons have proven to be informative and rewarding for young professionals throughout the Norman community.

Norman NEXT’s social networking event, NEXT Hour, provides young professionals the opportunity to meet and network with other young professionals in the community. Over the past year, locations have ranged from Clear Bay Cafe, O’ Asian Fusion, Interurban, Othello’s Campus Corner, O’Connell’s Campus Corner, Iron Star and others.

In May 2009, Norman NEXT hosted a combined event, “Networking in Paradise,” with the Edmond and Oklahoma City young professionals organizations.

The event was held at the Sheraton Hotel in Oklahoma City and had more than 100 young professionals in attendance.

The Norman NEXT Community Events Team hosted a Trick or Treat for Cans event in November which helped stock the pantries for two local non-profit organizations, Food and Shelter for Friends and Meals on Wheels. In December, Norman NEXT hosted a Vote for Kids event that encouraged members of the community to get out and vote yes for the school bond issue.

On average, 75 or more current and prospective members have attended NEXT Hour each month. NEXT Hour is usually held on the second Thursday, on even months, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at various locations throughout Norman.

Looking Forward

Norman NEXT sees a great future ahead and looks forward to continuously increasing its membership while making a positive impact in the lives of young professionals and the Norman community. Norman NEXT will celebrate its two year anniversary 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. April 15 at Cha Cha’s in Brookhaven Village. At the anniversary celebration, NEXT will introduce new board members and discuss plans for the upcoming year.

Norman NEXT is looking for young professionals from all backgrounds to get involved. Memberships are $75 for non-chamber members and $50 for current chamber members. The $75 also includes an individual membership to the Norman Chamber of Commerce, usually a $175 cost.

Norman NEXT is looking to partner with local businesses that want to make an impact in the community and the lives of young professionals. Community Partner sponsorships are available at $1,500 per year, which includes a month sponsorship in the annual Norman NEXT community calendar. Roundtable luncheon and NEXT hour sponsorships also are available at $300 each. For more information about Norman NEXT, membership or sponsorship opportunities, call Kyla McMoran at 321-7260 or e-mail her at kyla.mcmoran@normanchamber.com. Visit Norman NEXT online at www.NormanNext.com.

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