From the Chamber Chair
Dan Westhues, Central Bank
*Please note that a new Chairman's message will be available in February 2016 from our new Chairman of the Board - Janet Weckenborg.
It’s almost time to bring 2016 to a close – and what a year it was! National, state and local politics were the obvious headlines, and for us here in the Capital City that meant a flurry of activity.
Looking back on the year, I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed my time as chairman. While we worked several economic development projects or issues this year, I kept one single project in the forefront - the potential creation of a cyber security institute. Chamber President Randy Allen and I met with several groups around the state as well as visited a fully functional institute on the east coast. We are more confident than ever that this project is worth completing and in the long run will be a foundation for more technology jobs in the Jefferson City area. It is another great example on how we as a community can leverage the State of Missouri, one of our biggest assets, to help drive economic development. We still have a long way to go but I am more confident than ever that we will get this project over the goal line. (See Randy’s related article in this month's edition of Chamber TODAY)
For those of you that read and saved all my chairman’s articles, which I am sure is quite a large number, you will remember I referred to our chamber as a twin engine jet. One engine drives economic development and the other serves our existing business community. This brings me to something else I am proud we accomplished this year - Mission Possible. Under the direction of Chamber staff, we rallied our largest-ever group of volunteers and make contact with the vast majority of our membership. The feedback was incredible. We got to hear and collect the concerns and the issues our business community is facing. That information will be used for years to come in shaping what the Chamber works on and what services we provide for our members. The effort was large but the payout was huge. One result of Mission Possible is the creation of a membership advisory and support group which will use the feedback gathered during campaign as a starting point for their work in 2017. My hope is that you, our member, understand that we are listening and evolving our services to you and constantly focused on increasing the value of your membership.
I get excited when I think about 2017. A lot of groundwork has been laid this year to move several projects forward. One of the most exciting things to watch next year will be the progress from the workforce development task force. In the spring, we completed the labor study which gave us better understanding of our existing workforce. This summer the board identified some very specific initiatives we believe the Chamber can focus on and make a real impact on our community. Finally, in the fall the task force met and started to prioritize some initiatives to start in 2017. Janet Weckenborg is leading this task force and will be making it the cornerstone of her chairmanship. We are lucky to have someone as good as Janet taking on this project for our community and I am very excited to see next year unfold.
I want to end with a thank you for allowing me to serve as your Chamber chairman. There is something very fulfilling about stepping out of your normal daily routine and contributing to something bigger. One thing I learned quickly is that our chamber is doing really meaningful work. From the multitude of services provided to our business partners, to the participation in city and county initiatives, to the pure driving of economic development, our chamber is out there every day fighting to make our community a better place. I appreciate the opportunity to be on the leadership team even if only for a few years. I got to work directly on economic development opportunities for our community and have visited with so many businesses about their opportunities and challenges. I can honestly say it was a great experience.