Family Connection Collaboration hears from Chamber of Commerce

Published 2:30 pm Monday, January 23, 2023

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The Decatur County Family Connection held its first Family Connection Collaboration meeting of 2023 last Wednesday, hearing from speaker Lauren Minor of the Bainbridge Decatur County Chamber of Commerce. Family Connection brings community partners together to develop, implement, and evaluate plans that address the severe challenges facing our children and families and hosts monthly meetings where all are welcome to hear from various stakeholders in the community.

Minor has served as the Director of Communications and Events for The Chamber for the past six years and spoke to the group about her organization’s role in the community.

She began her talk by clarifying the singular position of her organization to meet specific business needs in the County. “Unless you’ve worked with us directly, you may be unsure what The Chamber of Commerce does. An excellent way to answer that is to consider if the Chamber were to close its doors. What would our community then lack?” Minor said. “We do some essential things that are very valuable for the economic prosperity of our area. So for one, without the Chamber, there’s no organization positioned to group businesses together and solve their joint problems. For example, the workforce is a huge issue; who’s responsible for organizing and funding a job fair? The Chamber’s uniquely positioned to take care of stuff like that. Providing value for our members and solving problems is where we stand. That’s our bread and butter—community issues that affect businesses that are our members.”

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In recent years, employment issues have risen to the forefront of many communities and economic development-focused groups. Minor shared some recently gathered data showing that up to 50% of residents of the County that can work, don’t. Shifts in social limitations over the past few years have factored into these changing dynamics, with a significant proportion of the unemployed being represented by mothers. Minor believes The Chamber and other organizations can be a part of the collaborative efforts to create a path back into the workforce for these individuals through their focus on business needs.

“I have a funny analogy for how I see our relationship with our members,” Minor shared, “Rick McCaskill, who’s over the Economic Development Authority for the County, recruits people like Taurus and other big companies here. So I think of them as the OBGYN who brings you into the world. They get you here; they deliver you. The Chamber is the mama, we take care of you. We try to solve all your problems. If you need to meet somebody, or if you need to talk to the city about a problem, we’re going to go talk to them for you,” Minor said. “We’ll advocate for you with our legislators. We’ll connect you with those people educationally if you need to know something.”

According to research, Minor predicts that within three years, the state will have around 3.6 million retirees, leaving a lot of open positions. But with younger generations thinking differently about employment and no longer mainly motivated by the prospect of benefits, state projections say that around 50% of the economy will be a more project-based gig economy. “All that is to say that workforce is going to continue to be a problem,” she said. “We’re going to have a lot of open positions, and if the daycare projection in our community doesn’t grow, if we can’t recruit for those positions. We need quality care for our children so that some women at home can return to work. Many of these women are valuable employees, so we need them in the workplace. These are the discussions our board has and how we try to solve problems.”

The next Family Connection Collaborative luncheon will be at the Kirbo Center in February.

Family Connection Collaboration hears from Chamber of Commerce