By: Margaret Dillard – Chamber President
Collaboration is defined as the action of working with someone to produce or create something. We collaborate with city and county governments, school administration and educators, health care organizations, workforce center, Small Business Development Center, Visit Fairmont, local business leaders and more. We work with other organizations to produce or create something and I’m grateful that most are eager to come together with the attitude that we are stronger, more creative and can pool resources.
Fairmont Area Chamber is a willing stakeholder when community projects are considered. Some recent successes include Fairmont Area Calendar, the partnership that founded FFA at Fairmont Area Schools, the Ag Tour of Martin County, Visit Fairmont’s Visitor Profile, Pork Masters Golf Outing and Area Career Exploration.
Sometimes, the perception that surfaces is that collaboration equals alignment of goals, vision and narratives. However, true strengths of collaboration will only be realized if the individual organizations remain focused on their specific purpose. This chamber “is an advocate for promoting a healthy business climate by facilitating access to leaders, communication and education through programs and services for its members.” That is our official mission set by our board of directors. This past fall, the thirteen agreed that we are an advocate for local businesses and organizations who depend on us to be their voice for business and that is a unique assignment when we come together with other stakeholders.
Each year, directors set aside time to review our mission, policies and goals. During the most recent review, it became clear that our goals require us to be a stronger advocate for business. We agreed that we must continually examine the local business climate and publicly support and recommend defined causes and policy. Four initiatives were identified as focuses during the year:
1. Revive the Retail Committee: This effort is in its infancy. Representatives will be reaching out to the retail community to create a team.
2. Create a Communications Strategy: Staff is creating a publication that will serve as a directory of programs and services.
3. Develop a Sustainability Plan for Fairmont Area Life: Identify new funding sources, while maintaining existing assets.
4. Evaluate Programs and Services: Streamlining current programs and services will provide for more focused outcomes.
A long-range focus of Fairmont Chamber is our position that we are a responsible party in the education and well-being of youth. We’ve invested in Early Childhood Initiative, Community Education and Recreation, Junior Achievement, Area Career Exploration and other programs who focus on younger residents. It is a position that is rather unique because the approach is a long-term investment.
Essentially, members have guided this organization into the foundational position where we are shaping the workforce of tomorrow. It’s my opinion that this stance is evidence of a community that cares about people and that we can be instrumental in supporting residents of today and tomorrow. Because our position focuses on the business climate, it is also a shining example where this organization is collaborative, yet is able to advocate for a specific cause. I encourage you to contact me with any questions you may have regarding our work and how our efforts align with our greater mission.