Chairman's Message

October/November 2017

Turning Big Rocks into Little Rocks      

It’s complicated.”  I bet many of you have heard this term before and it’s usually followed by reasons why something won’t work. That’s unfortunate, because instead it should encourage us to look for ways to address the “complicatedness” of a situation. Many of the issues the Chamber is working on are complicated but where there is a desire to move forward, there is usually more than one way to do so.

Turning big rocks into little rocks”, is a phrase my friend Robert uses when he describes the work he did every day before he retired. Sounds simple, but I suspect the daily work was much more complicated than that. I also suspect that the product/output of all that work is part of many of the roads we drive on every day, making our journeys easier.  One person’s impact, doing the job they do well, becoming part of the community’s growth and expansion efforts.

I think it’s a good analogy to many of the topics you will read about in this edition of Chamber Today. No single person makes change happen, rights wrongs, or creates a climate of opportunity alone. We all have the opportunity to play a part either in our paid job or in the volunteer efforts we enjoy participating in.

During the month of August, I asked a team of Chamber members to serve on the nominating committee for our new Board members to be elected for 3-year terms beginning in 2018. The nominating Committee, led by Jeff Davidson from Modern Litho, chose leaders in our community that represent both small and large organizations, from both inside the city and from the surrounding area. It was amazing to me how many “yes” responses we got when we asked. The committee didn’t need to go beyond the first 6 leaders we asked. Yes, it’s true. We asked 6 individuals and all 6 said yes.  That is a testimony to their willingness but also to community organizations and businesses that recognize the need to serve.  Thank you to the new members (and to their organizations): Amelia Boyd, SSM Health - St. Mary's Hospital, Jason Cecil, Missouri Bar Association, Morgan Delong Costello, Delong's Inc., Terry Donner,  Scholastic Inc.,  Shawn Strong,  State Technical College of Missouri,  Chris Wood, Jefferson Bank. You rock!

Sometimes an issue is too big to address all at once and so we break it apart and work on one part of it at a time. The Port Feasibility Study is an example. The consultant’s work has been focused on identifying those goods and products which could be shipped via a port and that which could be received via a port located in our immediate area. That takes input and many of the community’s business members have provided statistics, resources and personal insight into the evaluation. The steering committee will receive an update later this month. I can’t list all of you here, but thank you to all who took time to help us  break apart this big “rockin” opportunity into data for decision making.

National and state statistics are telling us that workforce shortages are upon us and without creative ideas may impact our future economic growth. This is no surprise to Chamber leadership as it is basically the same issue our earlier workforce study revealed.  What is new is that we’re taking more steps to break this big issue into small steps of progress. In today’s edition is an article about a recent tour the Chamber sponsored for JCPS high school counselors to learn more about several of our manufacturing entities and the employment opportunities they represent. In looking at our workforce demand, an opportunity identified was the lack of information high school counselors had on hand to assist the student who has decided that college was not the route they thought best for them. The tour helped those thirteen counselors that were able to attend, but we need to reach out to schools outside the city and county and do this again. (Recall the study indicated that many of our workforce within this city, live outside the County of Cole). We are getting feedback from the participants so we can improve the experience the next time. In addition, we have other industries who have expressed interest in being part of such tours.  Read the article by Missy Bonnot who will share other plans for high school student tours, and a workbook to assist the student’s transition to the workforce post-graduation.  Once again taking a big obstacle and addressing it in small steps.

Later this month, our Board will meet in a mini-retreat fashion and spend some time looking at our membership model and how best we can continue to grow new members, but even more important is to provide a great ROI (return on investment) for those who are current members. Members join for different reasons: support of business development, networking, leadership development, education, etc. We want to evaluate if our current membership model is best as is, or if there are changes we can make that better fit our Chamber and the role it plays. It’s another example of taking a big issue and breaking it into smaller pieces. 

I think by now, you’ve got the theme. The next time someone tells you “It’s complicated”, nod and remind them, “turning big rocks into little rocks” makes the journey a little easier and it takes all of us to do that. Thanks for your help.


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