January 24, 2018

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Happy New Year!  I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday season, and are ready for a successful 2018.  This is Jeanine McKenna, President of the Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau, and as most years, I have sat down and charted out my goals for the upcoming year, both personally and professionally.  I have thought about what is the best way to make it a successful year for all of our members and the community as a whole.  I have looked back at all we have accomplished, talked to our members and the leadership of the Chamber, and I believe we are in store for a successful and fulfilling year.  I am proud of our office that includes the Convention and Visitors Bureau, and what we accomplish together.  I am happy to have the Regional Development Association in our building as well.  We all work hard to Build Community, Through Business.  I believe that we truly are meeting our mission of being “proactive in creating an environment for business and community success”.

We have members who represent all sectors of our community, each with varying needs to grow and prosper, but in the end, I believe we all want Emporia to be a community in which we can live, work and raise our families. 

We are kicking off the year with a lot of great and dynamic programs.  The Government Matters committee has already traveled to Topeka and delivered our Joint Legislative Agenda.  This is the fourth year that we have come together as the Emporia and Lyon County area, and thirteen entities have joined us in sharing what is important for growth in our communities, business, and region.  This group will also be continuing their Dialogues with our elected officials throughout 2018, so be watching for more information as we draw nearer to each event.

Workforce Development, Leadership Development, and Housing will take center stage this year at the chamber.  Workforces across America are changing and seeing challenges they have never seen before.  According to SHRM (Society for Resource Management) Foundation, 35% of U.S. labor force participants will be over 50 in 2022.  This is up from 25% in 2002.  10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 every day, and by 2050, the 65-and-older age group is expected to grow by 75%.  The 25-to-54 age group will grow by only 2%. Not only is the workforce aging, but the supply of younger workers is diminishing in comparison. 

Mature workers—generally defined as workers over age 50 or 55—have experience and skills honed during decades of employment. Retaining talented mature workers—and recruiting new ones—is simply good business for most organizations.

A recent study by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute predicts that “the U.S. Manufacturing sector is likely to suffer a shortfall of 2 million workers by 2025.  This is a marked increase from the 600,000 jobs that went unfilled in 2011.

The Emporia Area Chamber will focus on several areas related to workforce development to assist the business community in this time of workforce shortages such as addressing the skills gap; bridging the generational gap; and preparing employees to step up when leadership steps down. 

We are uniquely positioned to offer Leadership training in various shapes and forms.  Skill development for aspiring leaders, departments, and companies as a whole.  Consistent feedback through one-one-one coaching as well as group coaching is available to help our members build their teams. 

The workforce in the Emporia Area must have affordable and adequate housing available to them.  The Emporia Area Chamber supports efforts that are being made to increase housing to fit the needs of its current and future citizens. 

I challenge you to look at the most significant economic development and job growth opportunities experienced, and you will find the Chamber’s fingerprints all over it. Whether its providing leadership development, advocating or supporting local business, the chamber is dedicated to helping Build Community through Business.

It is an honor to be a part of this great organization, and to be able to talk to you today.  Thank you, Steve Sauder, and KVOE for this opportunity.  Remember, It's a great day in Emporia; please tell someone! I’m Jeanine McKenna with the Emporia Area Chamber and Visitors Bureau and That is Something to Think About.