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Business group gets underway

Young business owners ­eager to find clients, swap insights, and network on the North Shore will soon celebrate the launch of a nonprofit ­designed to help them reach their goals.

Young Entrepreneurs of the North Shore  holds it free kickoff event Thursday from 7 to 10 p.m. at Victoria Station restaurant on Pickering Wharf in ­Salem. Attendees can sample complimentary food, see the ­organization’s new logo, and take part in a silent auction.

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 The group became an official nonprofit this month after a yearlong pilot program stirred interest in communities from Salem to Newburyport. With $10,000 in seed funding from the Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation , the Enterprise Center at Salem State University  helped organize workshops and networking opportunities during 2012. Events have attracted up to 100 participants.

“There are lots of little mom-and-pop businesses, retail businesses, lots of young people starting businesses on the North Shore,” said Renee ­Gannon, vice president of the group’s board of directors and director of marketing for the Enterprise Center. “Because most of these business owners are really small scale, their biggest need right now is brand exposure and getting access to new customers. [The group helps them] connect with each other and potentially do business.”

With the kickoff, Young Entrepreneurs marks a new chapter as a standalone organization that no longer relies on grant money. Eventually the group might tap members for dues or host fund-raisers, Gannon said. For now, it will rely on donations and volunteer ­efforts.

The group is open to entrepreneurs in any industry. Current participants come from the real estate, landscaping, ­accounting, and website design industries.

This year, the group plans to host networking events every two months around the North Shore. Between major events, smaller ones will likely come together as individual businesses sign up to host gatherings.

Organizers will ask business people at Thursday’s event what types of events they would like to see offered.

G. Jeffrey MacDonald can be reached at g.jeffrey.macdonald@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @gjmacdonald.

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