I know that every Chairman must feel this way come November. There is a sense of bewilderment in terms of where has the year gone and a sense of both relief and sadness that the next Chairman of the Chamber is in the “on deck circle” (for all you Cubs and Indian fans). My final column is next month and that will have a recap of both the past month and the past year, but for now I want to do a look forward as the board enters their annual planning session cycle.
Thank you to everyone that completed the membership surveys, these are very helpful to us, particularly the written comments and suggestions. It is your input that shapes our overall focus of work particularly as we head into planning session. At the annual board retreat this month we will be focusing on two major issues affecting the business community, community visioning and workforce development. To help prepare for this all-day meeting, white papers have been prepared (and hopefully read) so everyone attending will have great background information on both topics and we can hit the ground running (I am sure there is a baseball reference that I should be able to make…).
Our goal is to spend the day examining what can truly make a difference in creating a widely accepted and widely embraced community vision along with focusing on the many efforts around workforce development and how to engage the business community in most effectively supporting those efforts.
There are many good reasons to spend some time on community visioning. In this and past membership surveys many of you have commented that it appears that we do not have an idea of “what Grand Junction wants to be when it grows up”. It is also a complaint we often hear out in the community. There hasn’t been a comprehensive community visioning process since Vision 2020 was developed in 2003. 2020 is fast approaching so what do we want to be in 2030 or 2040? This isn’t an answer that can merely be put forth by the Chamber, or the Grand Junction City Council or the School District or countless other institutions. In order to be successful, it has to be inclusive. It has to engage the public and it has to honor the diversity of opinions that exist in the Grand Valley. The old adage that, if you don’t know where you are going, any destination will do, holds true for all of us including our community. We know we don’t have all the answers and we know we can’t do it alone but I am looking forward to the conversations.
Workforce Development has great things already being done by CMU, Western Colorado Community College, School District 51, the Mesa County Workforce Center and other partners and collaborators with the Chamber. It is also key to the development of diverse and sustainable economy. Yet, as an employer I am easily confused by who the players are, what they are asking of me and how I can use my limited resources to make a difference in the lives of our businesses and our children. Are we focusing on the right things? Are we focusing on too many things? Are we, the business community, engaged in working toward not just our current workforce needs but our future needs as well? These are questions your board will be pondering on November 4th.
As Chamber members, we know you want more from us than a Business After Hours once a month. Yes, networking is important and can yield immediate tangible results. But if we are to all be successful as businesses, this Chamber also needs to look at the big picture and help convene, catalyze and spur the dialogues that create a community and a business climate for the future. That is what we continue to strive to do for you and for the 37,000 employees and families that you employ.
Click here to download full version of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce November 2016 Newsletter.