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THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE’S KEY ROLE IN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Last updated on March 22nd, 2019

I have often been asked the question: “does a chamber of commerce have a role in economic development?” and the answer is a resounding yes!

The role of economic development & community marketing fall under the auspices of separate organizations in our community.

In essence, our chamber is indeed in the business of economic development and plays a key role.

Economic development is often referred to as a three-legged stool: keeping and growing existing businesses, starting new businesses, and attracting businesses.

While I agree with the three legs of the stool- model I’d like to challenge the status quo and add a fourth leg: supporting local sectors. Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce plays a key role in all four legs of “our” economic development stool by:
Business Retention and Expansion: The economic health of a community is only as good as the jobs provided by local businesses. The Sullivan County Chamber understands that local businesses need support to be successful. We are focused on helping businesses solve problems and capitalize on opportunities, all with the goal of retaining and creating well-paying jobs in the area.

Sector Strategy Projects: It’s important for a community to diversify its economy through businesses in different sectors, the same way it’s important for investors to diversify their investments in different funds. A diversified economy is a stronger economy since the community isn’t dependent on one industry. That’s why the Sullivan County Chamber is a lead partner in sector strategies aimed at supporting and growing key sectors. Sector strategies are partnerships where the businesses in a sector work together with government, education, training, economic development, labor and community organizations to identify initiatives designed to grow the sector. Two such initiatives that the Chamber has led the charge on :

• Chamber/Business Association Collaboration: partnership formation with the business associations and chamber of commerce organizations throughout the county and the Hudson Valley for the purpose of creating a more broad-based strong network that will provide greater access to information and resources that are needed collectively to reach goals for the county and for individual areas of influence.

• WorkForce Coalition: Creation of a skilled and thriving workforce by adoption/creation of a clear and coherent message that Sullivan County IS the place for jobs; market abundance of existing resources in the county for education and training if potential workers have a skill gap; support and enhance existing services to address Sullivan County unemployed persons’ barriers to work including high poverty rates, transportation, child care costs and restrictive policies for previously incarcerated people.

Partner in Regional Recruitment: While our priority focus is on our local businesses, it’s still important for a community to attract new businesses. New businesses bring outside money into a community and create new jobs, thus increasing the strength of the local economy. Business recruitment takes intentional efforts to market a community to attract new businesses that (1) fit into a community’s values and (2) supports existing businesses. The Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce is a lead partner with the Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development and is committed to working with key partners to assist and advocate for recruitment that aligns with our community’s values, builds on our strengths, and supports our existing businesses.

Advocate for the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: Every business was once a startup that has grown to provide jobs and opportunities in our community. We know that access to resources, people, and capital are critical to a startup’s success. That’s why we advocate for the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Sullivan County and the Hudson Valley Region through our support and partnership with organizations such as the Small Business Association, SCORE, etc.

Chambers and economic development organizations co-exist, and we acknowledge the critical role each organization plays in the economy of Sullivan County, our communities and the Hudson Valley Region. The Chamber of Commerce is indeed in economic development.

 

By, Jaime Schmeiser
President/CEO, Sullivan County Chamber