Next week, I’ll be honored to officially begin my tenure as the president and CEO of the Columbus Chamber. This community extended a warm welcome to me when I was introduced at the chamber’s annual meeting in February and attended the Experience Columbus annual meeting earlier this month. Thank you for helping my wife, Georgia, and me already feel at home here.
Now it’s time for me to get down to business in the Columbus region.
Business moves at a rapid pace. That’s especially true for entrepreneurs and startups. My hope is that you’ll look to the Columbus Chamber as your partner. From Southern Indiana to San Angelo, Texas, regions where I previously worked, one constant I’ve seen is that businesses are always seeking a trusted agent to stand in their corner and help them find solutions.
The Columbus Chamber is here to be that resource. We will continue to provide programs, like procurement and contract services, research and workforce support, to empower businesses, both big and small, to stay and thrive in Columbus. Research shows that as many as 80 percent of new jobs come from businesses already located in a community, so we take our job of working with existing businesses very seriously.
You can also expect us to launch new programs as part of the chamber’s role in the Columbus2020! regional economic growth initiative. For instance, we’re developing a referral network and a team of counselors whose job is to enhance relationships with business executives, respond to threats of businesses at risk of closing or leaving the region, and support businesses with expansion potential.
We may not be the expert at everything, but we can tell you where to find the best providers in our region to meet your business needs. Consider us your business “concierge” – a one-stop-shop for extraordinary service and information in the Columbus region.
One of my favorite success stories from southern Indiana is that of a young man who sought our assistance at his parents’ suggestion. A progressive member of Generation Y, I suspect that he questioned whether a traditional organization like a chamber could, or even would, want to help him. But we did.
Upon talking with him, we learned about his six-month-old social media business. He already employed four or five people at above-average wages. It was a true small business success story in the making. However, as much as he excelled at what he was doing, he didn’t understand some back office functions, like how to handle health insurance for his team, and he didn’t have a business growth plan. We helped connect him with the right resources, some within our organization and some from other groups within the community. Today, his business continues to grow and prosper.
I look forward to sharing more stories like that as I meet Columbus’s entrepreneurial community. I’m confident many of our entrepreneurs have the potential to be members of the Fortune 500, should they choose. Others may choose to join our vibrant population of small businesses.
Very few places in the world can boast the critical mass of bright minds that we have in this region, and the collaboration of our community leaders is unlike any I’ve seen in my experience across the country. With all those pieces in place to support our success, I truly believe the sky is the limit in the Columbus region.
And as you move your business forward, remember that the Columbus Chamber is here to serve you.