There is no denying it, the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce is seen as a leader. Our reputation of doing the hard work and speaking loudly on behalf of our business community is something we have (and will continue to strive for).
But as a leader, we must also remember that one of the most valuable skills we can have is to listen. We must listen to gather the perspectives, motivations, and fears that are influencing our members’ ability to thrive while also listening to our stakeholders to better understand the ways we can truly leverage our valuable resources and collaborations.
As I start down this new path, the road to better listening starts from the inside out. Conversations with staff on how we can work efficiently as a team to better serve you will result in added value to your membership. Discussions with Board Members, Community Leaders, and Stakeholders will allow us to reevaluate strategies and tactics to ensure we are approaching the quickly changing landscape in our Valley with thoughtful and productive solutions. Coffee chats with our employers and industry groups create a better understanding of the pressing matters that are impacting them right now, preventing them from truly succeeding. Finally, connecting with like-minded organizations across the Western Slope and the State of Colorado brings forward efforts we can combine our resources on, forming strong collations that are united on common interests, threats, and solutions.
In just the few short weeks since I became President & CEO, I’ve been part of conversations that afforded me the opportunity to peel back assumptions and truly listen to the heartbeat of our community. A few examples include:
- Convening with our ED Partners, we met to discuss the ongoing Mesa County Roadmap update. This effort began back when the state was tasked with helping consolidate and identify collaborative efforts that could help areas recover faster from the pandemic. Strategies focus on manufacturing clusters, freight hubs, industrial park development for incentives, and leveraging resources for the smaller surrounding communities in Mesa County. (Deque, Collbran, etc.)
- Conversations with Mesa County, Business Incubator Center, GJEP, AGNC, and CMU to create strategies for us to capitalize on the federal CHIPS Act. Over the next five years, there will be $50 Billion allocated to building and/or modernizing domestic semiconductor manufacturing in the US ($39 Billion) and building 20 Regional Tech hubs ($11 Billion) that will perform scientific research, workforce development, and more. There is a rural component connected to the hubs (Rural or economically disadvantaged areas) and something that we think makes Mesa County a possible contender for a hub.
- Engaging in a special task force related to the escalating population and impact of the homeless community in the downtown area, specifically near Whitman Park. This priority topic impacts a large number of businesses and we intend to remain firmly seated at the table.
Lastly, we met as a member of the Mesa County Health Leaders Consortium to discuss the findings of the Mesa County Health Department’s recent Community Health Assessment.
- Conversations focused on our population earning below the livable wage and the number of unclaimed benefits currently available. Concerns were also discussed regarding the upcoming discontinuation of the Public Health Emergency which will impact a large group of citizens who will no longer be covered by Medicaid and the impact those who are no longer covered will have on the system moving forward.
These are just a few examples of the way I am committed to getting out and listening to genuinely understand our community. The information gathered during these sessions will influence our upcoming strategic planning for 2023, allowing us to successfully identify key priorities and growth opportunities for our organization and the business community.
Afterall, speaking is about repeating what we know. Listening is about learning something new and as our Valley evolves, we must always be ready to learn.