Patchogue is starting to become known as young person’s town, especially late on a Friday or Saturday night.
But there’s a group of young people working quietly to shape the area’s future for the best.
They call themselves the Patchogue Young Professionals.
“We’re looking to incorporate the youth into local affairs in Patchogue,” said Stephen King, a realtor for Realty Connect USA and the group’s chair. “We would consider this a success if we can see more young professionals living and working in Patchogue, and participating in Chamber of Commerce or community work.”
The efforts, pushed along by the chamber earlier this year, have already caught traction.
The Young Professionals have organized two well-attended networking nights, attracting keynote speakers such as Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri and James Bonanno, owner of The Tap Room restaurants, a growing chain of acai bowl locations called Bango Bowls and more.
Last month, the group worked with Patchogue-Medford High School teachers to book a panel of professionals from the area to speak to business students at the school.
And next up is a big networking dinner set for April 18, from 6:30-8:30 p.m., at James Joyce Irish pub in Patchogue. The speaker is Chamber of Commerce president James Skidmore and tickets are $25 to attend, which includes a buffet dinner.
Click here to reserve your spot.
King said the networking events will be held roughly once a month.
“These will be open to the public and offer networking opportunities in a younger setting while offering informative content to those looking to build careers or businesses in Patchogue,” King said.
Other planning board members include Michelle Gillette Kelly of Patchogue, who’s opening a French bakery called Mademoiselle Pastisserie on North Ocean Avenue; Kyle Koleda, a Patchogue-Medford librarian and videographer; Michele Cayea of Medford, also a librarian at Pat-Med; and Tiffany Rivera of Patchogue, a Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce VP.
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King and the other co-founders stress there’s no actual age requirements to partake. As long as you’re young at heart, they say.
“The young is a state of mind, not just an age,” said Rivera.
“Patchogue is really thriving,” said Cayea. “Whenever my friends want to go out, it’s always, Where are we going in Patchogue? And the more we walk around, the more people we meet and get to know who are really excited about the community overall.”
These are the type of of people the Young Professionals are looking to attract.
“We really want young entrepreneurs to realize how successful they can be in Patchogue Village,” Cayea said. “Why this is the place to be, because there’s so much going on. And there’s a lot of help and backing for you here in the village.”
Pontieri says it’s important for any community to seize on the momentum of its younger professionals, but that’s especially in a youth-trending place like Patchogue Village.
“The average age in the village is 34; the average age in Suffolk County is 42,” Pontieri pointed out. “We’re a younger community, and we not only want people to work here, but purchase and buy a home and live in the community.
“My job is to get them to stick around and become the next generation to raise kids, go to the Little League games and become involved, whether it’s service clubs like the Lions or even village government,” he added.
The mayor also said he was impressed with the group’s planning board and the attendees at last month’s meeting.
“Their energy spills out onto Main Street,” he said. “It’s exciting for the community.”
Top: Mayor Paul Pontieri speaks at the Patchogue Young Professionals networking meeting in March at the BrickHouse Brewery on West Main Street. (Credit: Kyle Koleda)