Sharing stories over beers is an age-old way of connecting that’s been re-imagined by a group of industrious young professionals in the Midcoast Region. “Tales & Ales” brings participants together every other month to hear three local entrepreneurs share best practices, challenges and triumphs while sampling local brews.

The fun but business-focused series in Brunswick was named Project of the Year by the Realize Maine Network, an initiative of the Maine Development Foundation. The series is the brainchild of Midcoast Edge, one of 10 regional teams of under-40 professionals who make up the network.

“We’re fostering connections for career enhancement and community involvement,” said Kelly Dorsey, vice president of treasury services at Androscoggin Bank and chairman of Midcoast Edge.

Tales & Ales won Project of the Year and a $500 stipend in a competition that included charity dodge ball tournaments, leadership lunches with the likes of former Maine Sen. George Mitchell, and forums on ballot initiatives.

The Realize Maine Network brings together regional group representation in efforts to attract and retain young people in Maine. The network creates a forum for sharing ideas, lessons learned and ways to engage young professionals across the state.

Yellow Breen, president and CEO of Maine Development Foundation, said, “Mainers who have stayed here or figured out a way to come back have scratched, clawed and created career opportunities. We want it to be easier for those coming up in the workforce now. We want to help create the networks, opportunities and relationships that make young people able to stay here.”