As you have all probably figured out by now the focus of this newsletter is on workforce development since September is Workforce month. The Chamber has made workforce development a key goal of our 2022 business plan…and with good reason. It is the number one issue identified by our members as keeping them awake at night in our last membership survey.
This Chamber recognized years ago that this is a tough economic development issue for our community and no one entity is going to adequately address the ever-evolving state of our area’s workforce needs. That is why several years ago, we began convening workforce providers, employers, and other economic development partners on a monthly basis to share ideas about what is working and support the work of each other. You will see many of them and their programs highlighted throughout this newsletter. There are so many in fact that sometimes employers can’t keep track of all that is available to them so we developed a menu of services for employers. Over the years we have also noted that various workforce providers were actually tripping over each other in reaching out to employers to request they offer work-based experiences for our emerging workforce (the middle, high school, and college students of today) so we offered to help spread the wealth and engage even more employers in these valuable career exploration and work-based lessons.
Recently during a briefing to the Grand Junction City Council, the relationship between workforce providers and economic development partners was discussed. It was suggested that our current business development memorandum of understanding (MOU) between GJEP, BIC, and the Chamber might be expanded to include workforce partners. Although revisiting an MOU periodically has merit, in this case, our history of the Chamber leading a collaborative process is a proven model. It is a testament to the commitment that already exists in this community for workforce providers and employers to work together. Formalizing this structure and process as part of a strategic plan inclusive of all efforts in the MOU, which was also suggested at this briefing, would be far more effective in not only cementing current successful efforts but also would provide opportunities to enhance collaboration with other endeavors. In our view, the MOU is not broken or antiquated, but still serves as an appropriate foundational structure for economic development partners.
We have and will continue to convene employers and workforce development partners; we have collaborated well in the absence of formal agreements. It has been and continues to happen every day in this community. That is a testament to the excellence of institutions like the Mesa County Workforce Center, School District 51, CMU, WCCC, and the over 1,000 local companies who work with them to reskill and upskill their current workforce and introduce the world of work to the students of today who will be our future employees.
The Chamber is proud to be a convenor and collaborator in these efforts and remains committed to forging relationships to address our economic development challenges while embracing all the many organizations that roll up their sleeves and work together.