Earlier in January, the Dearborn County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, a diverse group of dedicated business and community leaders, spent a full day discussing the future of the Chamber, the county and the region. We discussed what the direction of the organization should be over the next few years to make sure we are focused on issues important to our members and programs that help the overall economy grow. It was a fantastic day and really energized the board and staff to make 2018 a year of exceptional prosperity in Dearborn County.
2017 was an important year for the Chamber of Commerce. We implemented a promising new Leadership program in partnership with the United Way, invested in the future of the organization through a brand and website refresh, had strong positive impacts regionally through business advocacy and increased overall attendance at our premier events.
One of the larger focuses in 2017 was Leadership Dearborn, a new program started in partnership with the United Way. Both organizations realized the need to identify and promote new leaders and came together in late 2016 to build the program. It was launched in March of 2017 with 11 participants who all completed the course in December, participating in 10 classes including workshops, study sessions and project work sessions. They were an integral part in developing and promoting a new Second Chance workforce initiative meant to help drug offenders get back on their feet. The two organizations are in the process of matching the participants with local organizations and committees, as all have expressed an interest in maintaining an active presence in the community. The feedback we received from participants was overwhelmingly positive (including some smart suggestions as to how to grow Leadership Dearborn in 2018 and beyond) and the United Way and Chamber are excited to refine and perfect the program. We are actively seeking participants and it will launch once again at Get Energized on March 2nd.
The Chamber worked with Beinkemper Creative Services to create a new logo that highlights the location, progress and strength of Dearborn County and with Absolute Web Design to build a brand new website (www.dearborncountychamber.org) that will allow us to be more interactive, informative and timely with all of the information important to your business and the regional business community. You can expect a more expanded presence from the Chamber in the form of video series, a continually updated news stream and even more educational opportunities. We are dedicated to being the online hub for businesses in Dearborn County.
The Chamber has also been active in a number of regional groups focused on workforce development and transportation issues. The Chamber meets monthly with the EcO Region 9 Manufacturing Guidance Team. Over the past two years this group has focused on identifying priorities and programs that will help with local workforce development, specifically dedicating large chunks of time to the Indiana SkillUp Grant. In 2017, the group was able to apply for and receive nearly $2m which went towards programs aimed at showing high school students, teachers and parents the value and viability of careers in manufacturing (among other programs). We will learn about the status of our 2018 application shortly. Additionally the Chamber worked with the Tri-State Chamber Alliance and the Ohio Kentucky Indiana Regional Council of Governments on transportation and logistical issues. The Chamber also spent considerable time assisting municipalities and the county with local issues and events as requested, on behalf of the business community. There are some truly exciting local initiatives currently in the planning phases that we are excited to be lending assistance to, including Aurora’s 200th birthday and the relaunch of the Dearborn County high school business plan competition.
Dearborn County is poised for tremendous growth over the next few years. We are seeing it already. Excitement over the fourth port, Amazon’s expansion at CVG and just a generally healthy economy have our employers excited about their prospects going forward. The community has continued its strong run of collaboration and coming together to tackle important issues and to take advantage of these opportunities and the Chamber of Commerce is proud to advocate for the business community in these discussions.
In the coming year the Chamber will continue to focus on strengthening the economy of our community. As the largest business membership organization in Southeast Indiana the Chamber is committed to being the voice of our members in the Tri-State. We continue to work with organizations and elected officials at the local, regional and state levels to promote a business friendly environment that will assist continued growth and prosperity. We also plan to expand our educational and networking opportunities. The Chamber will be hosting a number of exciting workshops, starting with a seminar on the impact of the new tax bill on your business on February 8th, and events focused on increasing member engagement and providing new network building opportunities. In 2018 we will continue to promote, inform, educate and advocate for our members and help grow their businesses and in turn grow our regional economy.