In 2007, eight or so young professionals sought to create a group where they could come together to improve the community, do business together, and network. They realized the need for some support, and at the same time, the SWLA Chamber Alliance wanted to start a young professional organization in the area. "It was a marriage made in heaven,” says Fusion Five president Katie Hebert. "Amanda White (Vice President, Communications & Special Projects with the SWLA Economic Development Alliance) served as the liaison between the group and the Chamber. She was very instrumental in keeping it organized and helping the group accomplish their goals.”
This year, Fusion Five members celebrate the group’s 10th anniversary! The name Fusion Five comes from the desire to unite young professionals from across the five-parish region. And they’ve done just that! From the initial handful of go-getters in 2007, the group has grown to approximately 200 current members. Their target age group is 21-45. Last year, they applied for and were recently awarded 501c3 non-profit status. This designation gives the group more independence and ability to branch out.
The goals of Fusion Five are to make Southwest Louisiana a better place for young professionals to live, retain millennials in the area, provide an outlet for socializing and networking, and professional development opportunities through mentorships. They host events in an effort to connect one generation to another to help members transition to the next level in their career or volunteer life. They host monthly luncheons, weekly coffees, and after hours events. Most events are free for members or charge a nominal fee, ie for luncheons. They try to plug members in to various committees, depending on interests, and offer many opportunities for volunteer service.
Fusion Five is a great way for newcomers to form friendships. Hebert, age 36, moved here from Lafayette in 2005. "Fusion Five is where I’ve met most of my friends and business associates,” she says. "It’s a great time to be a young professional in Southwest Louisiana.”
Annual dues are $75. For more information on events or to find a membership application, see their website, fusionfive.org or find them on Facebook.