GSL Column: EPIC Young Professionals are the heartbeat of Ross County’s future

This column first appeared in the March 2021 edition of Great Seal Living.

Celebrating the diversity of backgrounds and cultures in Ross County is just part of the Chillicothe Ross Chamber of Commerce’s daily routine. So, too, is working hard to recruit and retain the best and brightest employees to our local workforce.

We try to achieve this through our Young Professionals group, EPIC, which stands for Empowering Young Professionals in Chillicothe.

Launched in 2016, EPIC helps promote a community that attracts and retains young professionals in the Chillicothe area by connecting individuals to each other and the community. The organization does this through social and professional development as well as community, or charitable, service.

A few years ago, I was amazed at the Ross County Parks District levy campaign turnaround. In 2018, an attempt to help maintain and create programming for the parks failed by 3 percent, but a year later, the measure passed by 7 percent.

Part of that incredible turnaround was fostered by a talented team of young professionals who formed the successful effort’s communications strategy. The grassroots “All In” movement helped educate the community on how important our parks are and how they can help build and maintain a thriving Ross County.

After that campaign’s success, many in the community wanted to find ways to keep that core communications group engaged in how Ross County could further move toward a more vibrant and thriving community.

Then, COVID hit, and much of what EPIC does was paused – just like everything else around us. Later that year, EPIC emerged with a new leadership team – including some of the members who helped engineer the levy turnaround.

That group began discussing the mission and vision it wanted to carry forward. They emerged with a renewed emphasis on four core focuses – community, connection, development, and empowerment.

Community means being a positive impact in Ross County through social events, community service, and charitable activity. In essence, our EPIC Young Professionals recognize that it’s not enough to live and work in a community; they want to be a part of how it develops by contributing to the causes and charities that help to make it better for everyone.

Connection is merely bringing young, like-minded people together through their professional and practical experiences. They’ll connect, forming new friendships and bonds that will extend to the professional arena, helping to develop each other through accountability to each other and EPIC itself. We hope they will also come together to help address our community’s most significant opportunities for change.

Personal and professional development is another core focus. EPIC aims to grow its members through a variety of personal and professional development opportunities. They aim to boost each other through personal relationships that enhance professional networking, which leads to more robust and more confident employees. We hope to retain our best employees and help them advance right here in Ross County.

EPIC will also work hard to influence and inspire young adults to reach their full potential by empowering them and building their confidence to learn and grow while staying true to themselves. We hope that they’ll build each other up and leverage the relationships they have in the community to help everyone get better together.

We’re also looking to add young professionals from 18 to 40 years old to help capture some of the college-aged people or preparing to enter the workforce for the first time. Capturing our workforce’s diversity means EPIC is open to the worker on the front line at the fast-food franchise as it is to the small business owner. It’s accessible to the white-collar and the blue-collar workers and just as much for the people who make minimum wage as those fortunate to have jobs that pay significantly more.

Plugging these young people into our community will hopefully ensure their contributions for years to come, keeping them engaged and helping everyone thrive.

To get more information about EPIC, visit

Mike Throne is the president and CEO of the Chillicothe Ross Chamber of Commerce.