The Opportunity for Chambers to Be More Relevant Has NEVER Been Greater

Dave Kilby

IF—and it’s a big if—chambers of commerce are willing to step out of their comfort zones and excel at being problem solvers, a tremendous opportunity awaits.

That’s a key takeaway from our recent survey of W.A.C.E. paid chief executive members.

Workforce Issues

When we asked what the top two problems facing their members were, the overwhelming No. 1 answer by more than 50% of the respondents was finding qualified workers and workforce issues.

Just a handful of years ago, it seemed that only a small percentage of chambers were engaged in workforce development. If it’s now a top problem facing businesses, as our survey indicated, it’s time for chambers to get in the game and start making a difference as fearless problem solvers. Stay tuned…you’ll be hearing much more from W.A.C.E. on the issue of workforce development in 2020.

The problem-solving opportunities don’t stop with workforce issues. Next in line on the list of issues impacting businesses were:

• Government regulations and the resulting cost of doing business;

• Competition and the future of retail;

• Housing issues; and

• Homelessness.

The above issues also align nicely with being a 3C Chamber—a catalyst for business growth, a convener of leaders and influencers to get things done and a champion for a thriving community.

Ready to Lead?

Obviously, these issues are NOT an easy lift and will require MANY chamber boards and executives to get out of their comfort zones. There’s no time like the present to stop talking and start doing.

The ball is in our court and the choice is ours. Choose wisely.

The opportunity for chambers to be more relevant than ever is staring our industry in the face.

So the question we MUST ask is: Do we have the courage to take the actions needed to help our members and our communities succeed? Or will we take the easy path and continue to focus on events instead of being leaders and problem solvers?

Dave Kilby is president and CEO of W.A.C.E. and executive vice president of corporate affairs at the California Chamber.