Political Advocacy, Workforce Development Are Areas of Opportunity for Chambers

What is the biggest opportunity for your chamber in your community and how do you anticipate taking advantage of it?

Kelly Hall, CCE, IOM
Longview (TX) Chamber


H – hunger for wisdom.

E – expect the best.

A – accept responsibility.

R – respond with courage.

T – thinking of others.

—From Mark Miller’s The Heart of Leadership.

Our chamber believes in listening and paying attention to the trends of our investors. Listening is growing our work around social impact issues. We are responding to our investors, and as a result it is taking our organization to new heights.

Employers want a healthy and well-trained workforce, they want a vibrant community with a robust economy, they want to be proud of their community, and they expect their chamber to champion the work. Looking through the lens of our customers has been challenging to say the least. We have accepted the responsibility by taking their dreams and aligning them into a vision that drives our work; R.E.A.C.H. (redevelopment, education, advocacy, collaboration, health). By embracing our members’ “hearts,” our mission is resonating across generations.

There is much to be done! We believe to truly take advantage of this momentum our team must remain open to learning and then apply the knowledge wisely. It requires us to have heart! Having heart builds and drives momentum. Having heart leads to success. Having heart creates a thriving economy. Having heart prepares the landscape for future generations.

Theresa Harvey
North Orange County (CA) Chamber

As with many communities, North Orange County continues to experience a gap between the skills required by employers and the skills exhibited in job seekers. Of particular need are employees to fill mid-skill level jobs, many of which have been identified as having high wage potential. Educators and employers have been discussing the problem for years, but limited progress has been made to close the gap.

This year, the North Orange County Chamber (NOCC) seized an opportunity to partner with our regional community college district to convene business leaders and discuss opportunities for growth and challenges facing them as they work to meet their goals.

Aligning our program with the priorities identified in the county’s regional plan, we submitted a grant proposal to and were awarded funding from the community college district, allowing us to expand our workforce program focused on the areas of manufacturing, health care, hospitality/tourism, and business technology. The plan we designed also allowed us to collaborate with the county’s three development boards.

Our vision for regional impact was strengthened by an opportunity provided through the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) Fellowship for Education and Talent Development. Through interaction with chamber peers, ACCE staff and national experts, I was able to expand my professional network and explore other approaches and best practices in the talent development space through a combination of in-person meetings, expert consultations and peer engagement.

The regional action project (RAP) developed through this program will provide us the foundation to continue to expand programs and enhance opportunities for future funding.

Workforce development has been a foundational goal for NOCC and the programs implemented this year have demonstrated to leadership and the community the role the business community has on impacting this important area of work. We are now recognized as conveners of business leaders who together are committed to making a change that will impact generations of employees and employers.

We look forward to strengthening our position as a champion for economic growth in our region and have commitments for funding that will continue our programs in the future.

Amber Smith
Tucson Metro (AZ) Chamber

We have a strong community of veterans and transitioning military members in Southern Arizona. These individuals have diverse technical skillsets, leadership training and soft skills in high demand by Tucson businesses and industries. The Tucson Metro Chamber is building a pipeline to best serve this group and place individuals into fantastic positions locally as we satisfy growing workforce needs.

Scott Ashton
Oceanside (CA) Chamber

Our biggest opportunity is to help business-friendly candidates get elected to city offices in the 2020 elections. Two of our council districts, along with the “at-large” mayoral seat, will have elections next year, and we have been preparing to impact these races. We are finalizing our policies and procedures for endorsing candidates, working on fundraising strategies, and have done extensive outreach to our members on the types of candidates they would like us to support. Our members are appreciative of the chamber’s willingness to take on this new challenge.