The year is half over which is simply incredible to me but as I reflect on the past six months; I see the key word that I would like to have characterize this year at the Chamber. That word is “collaboration.” As defined in the dictionary, collaboration means the action of working with someone to produce or create something. That fits pretty well with what I have seen happening so far this year at the Chamber as three key examples come to mind.
First, of course, has to be the unprecedented and ground breaking collaboration that led to the success of the Western Colorado Delegation’s trip to Canada to spur job creation. As one Encana executive noted during our site visit with them, “I have never seen such a diverse group of people representing such a wide range of organizations meet with us like this.” The results speak for themselves in terms of the outcomes. I have no idea if the 30 plus leads we garnered for interest in our area will develop into jobs but I do know that we now have 30 more opportunities than we had a month ago to create jobs. The presence of public officials such as the Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem and County Commissioner Justman making booth calls alongside economic development professionals and private business representatives was noticed and appreciated by those we came in contact with.
Second is the working relationship that has developed between the Mesa County Workforce Center, School District 51 and the Chamber to address future workforce needs. The Chamber in the past has managed to devote a half-time staff position to such important endeavors as the Young Entrepreneurs Academy and Hire Me First Program. In order to expand on those efforts and provide more opportunities for area youth to explore and determine their individual career pathways more is needed. The memorandum of understanding signed by the three entities in June allows the Chamber to double the staff resources dedicated to helping local students connect with employers and enjoy more opportunities for internships and job shadowing experiences. That in turn will lead to a more qualified workforce for area employers.
Third is the development of the Economic Development Marketing Plan which is winding toward a conclusion by early fall. Fiona Arnold, Executive Director of the Office of Economic Development and International Trade, in her remarks at our quarterly luncheon last month praised the community for coming together to undertake this effort. With the City and County taking the funding lead and the collaboration of all of the economic development partners in gathering data and participating in a focus group, I am confident that this plan helps us provide a unified message to the world about who we are and why they should consider doing business here.
There are many other examples that I could also point to but I think you get the picture. Collaboration is what has made this community a model in areas such as health care and education in the past. And collaboration is what will make us an economic success in the future.
Jeff Franklin, Chairman
Click here to download the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce July 2015 Newsletter.