Host Tough Talks, Build One-Stop Solutions to Solve Community Issues

What has your chamber done recently to be a “Kick-Ass Problem Solver” in your community?

Rachel Roy, MBA
Executive Director
Greater Sitka (AK) Chamber

With an increase in our cruise visitors from 220,000 in 2019 (zero in 2020) to 480,000 passengers anticipated in 2022, the Sitka Chamber’s destination marketing organization, Visit Sitka, has taken on management services for our local city.

By providing multi-channel communications to our community about newly instituted downtown street closures, getting boots-on-the-ground with roving staff to ensure business, resident and visitor needs are being met, and working with the municipality to adjust operations as feedback is received, this work is an integral step to revitalizing our economy and enhancing quality of life for our community.

Jaime Henning, CCE
Greeley Area (CO) Chamber

Civil discourse has never been more important as division can be seen all around us. As nonpartisan convenors and collaborators, we cannot allow our communities to lose their connectivity as we face challenges and opportunities.

During the pandemic, our chamber created an organic Zoom conversation between elected and business leaders, moderated by our chamber, to talk about not only business issues but matters of the heart around leadership. They allowed us to create solutions and reach a greater understanding and the interesting part: our 10 Zoom conversations received as many as 45,000 views.

We are now hosting Common Grounds, where a lot can happen over coffee “live” at the chamber. We believe working productively with those we do AND do not share ideas with is critical to giving new perspective on how we place our decisions.

We set the table with ground rules that can help anyone in hard conversations and still set them up for success:

• Every conversation begins with great listening and seeking to understand.

• We value thoughtful civil discourse and respect other’s thoughts, experiences, and opinions as we share our own values, fears, and interests.

• We are educating about business issues and working to identify shared principles for our community.

• By talking, we create opportunities for learning and growing together.

• We must allow space for disagreement; but also provide support to reach agreement.

We cannot forget that one of the chamber’s most important roles is creating community conversations that matter. Our new live conversations have been met with great enthusiasm, proving once again that face-to-face and heart-to-heart interactions and connections from the chamber community reap incredible rewards.

Colin Diaz, ACE, IOM
Tempe (AZ) Chamber

Here in Tempe, we have seen a growing challenge in finding and retaining qualified workers. This isn’t necessarily different than other parts of the country; however, our U.S. second lowest unemployment rate of 2.3% is. So, we know that with the growing demand for employees, and shifting availability, something had to be done.

As a result, we led the charge of working with our local community college and employers to create a Micro Credentialing Program that will uptool the current employee base and solve the qualified worker shortage problem through measured, timely and rapid education.

We’ve figured out ways to underwrite the cost for employers and sustain this program in perpetuity. So this is a solution that will remain in our community and likely only expand.

Jill Lagan, ACE
Boulder City (NV) Chamber

A one-stop-shop of any type saves time and money. Why can’t we have that shop make the chamber money? That was my question, and now, after 15 years of attempts and failures, we finally have our solution.

A successful application to the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) for a grant of $2.2 million has allowed us to be in the process of building the Boulder City Adventure Center, an outdoor recreational hub located at the Boulder City Chamber and Nevada Welcome Center that will host 16 outdoor attraction companies from the surrounding area with sales kiosks at the rest area.

We have established a bus transportation contract that will bring clients of each operator as well as general guests from the strip in Las Vegas to the adventure center. The bus company will also offer a shuttle around Boulder City stopping at five locations. A co-op marketing account will be established from a portion of the operators’ monthly rent and will be used to advertise the Boulder City Adventure Center, providing marketing sustainability for years to come.

The center is also host to an amphitheater overlooking Lake Mead and extended walking paths from the current trailhead on property with solar electric vehicle (EV) charging stations for guests, as well as xeriscaping to incorporate a water-production demonstration garden.

The development will take 10–14 months and has garnered a lot of positive attention. At this time, two of the operators committed to being onsite have expressed an interest in using the site as a training center for their future employees at other locations around the state. Workforce investment, economic development, tourism promotion, nonprofit sustainability and relevance, driving traffic into our local businesses … yes, a one-stop-shop is all about time and money.