Collective bargaining, $8 billion deficit, state and federal funding cuts, new census information, education reform, fuel prices, Japan. We are constantly overwhelmed with information and if you are a news addict, as I am, it is even more challenging to try and link all of these together and look at cause and effect, unintended consequences and possible opportunities and long-term threats in our area, region and even the world.
At an American Chamber of Commerce Executives meeting in Durham, NC last week I had the opportunity to hear from Chamber Executives from around the country. At the board meeting we discussed the communication revolution, the need for community connectivity, a renewal in corporate-civic engagement and many other issues that make the Chamber of Commerce’s role in the community even more important today.
You must focus on your business but we know that the environment in which you locate and invest can be a critical element in your success. The Chamber knows that our role in this environment is to identify, influence and participate in problem-solving and decision-making. Your support of the organization, whether you can attend functions and events or not, provides the resources to carry out YOUR mission; to serve our member investors and promote business interests through economic development, business advocacy and member services which benefit the greater Medina community.
A recent survey we conducted pointed out that there are some things we may not be sharing as well as we should. I will try to begin to focus in on some of the real issues, opportunities and concerns but I need to do it over a month or so.
Business advocacy promotes pro-business and quality government at all levels and mobilizes, in support of or in opposition to, issues that affect the business community and local quality of life. The Board’s strategic plan for 2011 in business advocacy includes promoting and supporting pro-business advocacy at local, state and federal levels; providing educational/informational forums for government issues, ballot proposals and political candidate elections; promote intergovernmental cooperation in our region and supporting the electoral process; and increasing awareness of available governmental positions to encourage strong, business-friendly leadership.
One of the ways we carry out our Business Advocacy is through the Business Advocacy Division of the Board. These individuals are not afraid to discuss and take on the tough issues. The Board members of this division are: Chad Wilson, Amy Demlow, Mike Baach, Jim Conrad, Jim Bigam, Don Simmons and Dave Mueller. This group routinely meets to discuss issues, programs and possible legislative action. In addition, several have agreed to become Captains of Commerce through the Ohio Chamber of Commerce to promote the Campaign for Jobs. If you are interested in becoming a Captain of Commerce you will find more details at www.campaignforjobs.com.
State Funding Cuts: Since the Chamber is a special interest group we are biased about programs that support and fund jobs, workforce and economic development. We have heard about local government, Small Business Development Center, and the Medina County Workforce Development Training Center funding cuts. No, we are not supportive of these cuts, but we recognize that with an $8 billion hole in the State budget it is going to be painful for every agency and organization. We must find ways to continue to provide the vital services and programs on which we have come to rely. We cannot expect Government to continue doing business as usual and spend our way out of this budget crisis. The Chamber is researching how we can be helpful in filling any voids that may result from these funding cuts.
To be continued…