When I first moved to Columbia and started my business, the only thing I knew about the area was what I learned from this weird spiel that I had heard from my wife and that kept coming up as I met people in the community. It went something like this.
“Howard County is the best place in the world because: We were the first-ever planned community, our school system is amazing, we’ve got a thriving business community, we are one of the wealthiest counties in the country, we are diverse, and we’ve even got these great walking paths. Oh, and if you don’t believe me, Money magazine just rated us as best place to live.”

By the fifth or sixth time I heard this, I was convinced that I had found myself in some alternate society that required its citizens to put a bumper sticker on their car and memorize a list of Howard County-related bullet points before being allowed to leave their homes.

As it turns out, I wasn’t in an alternate society, but I was in a unique one — one made up of people who are proud of where they come from, but not so proud as to be unwelcoming to a newcomer like myself.

My first real business experience was getting involved with the Howard County Chamber of Commerce, and specifically the Young Professionals Network (YPN). I was welcomed at my first event by a group of friendly and humble people, and five years later I now have the great honor of leading the same group that helped me get my start.

One of our biggest initiatives this year is the successful launch of our new “Celerate” series. A professional development workshop designed with the young professional (YP) in mind, these events are anything but boring. They are fast-paced, engaging, and focus on topics that YPs will find valuable. If you’re a young professional looking for a great way to get involved with the business community, please feel free to join us at our next Celerate event.

In my short time in this community I’ve learned a really important lesson: that a happy and successful career starts with the people who surround you. Relationships are everything.
I salute you, Howard County Chamber, for building an infrastructure of great people — people who are proud of where they come from and happy to welcome newcomers with a smile and a handshake. I feel fortunate to have been one of those whom you’ve welcomed in so kindly, and feel proud to make this county my home. I even caught myself giving the Howard County spiel to a friend of mine who was considering a move to the area. What have I become?

— Eric Pfoutz, Financial Adviser
Edward Jones