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At the Center
August 2012

Hello.  And welcome to At the Center.

If you’re like me, no matter what your age, you just can’t shake the unmistakable feel of “back-to-school” around this time of year.  In one way or another, it is part of our past, it is part of our present and, I am pleased to say, it is part of our future –in fact, at The Chamber we see it as a growing part of our future.

Last year, we identified Business-Education partnerships as one of our top Strategic Priorities and since that time we have been working to build a program that engages our members, helps our schools and, most significantly, introduces our youth to the 21st Century workplace.  The need for such a prioritization is obvious – without an educated future workforce our local economy is doomed.

So in the spirit of “back-to-school,” I’d like to update you on our efforts with education and enlist your help and involvement in ensuring our community’s success.  Let’s be clear, our country has an education problem and it is both unfair and unrealistic to think the business community doesn’t have to be part of the solution.

For starters, I would like to invite you all to attend a forum on Wednesday, September 19 from 1 – 3:00 p.m. at the Ware Center wherein The Chamber’s Business-Education Task Force will be presenting their recommendations for business-education partnerships that have emerged following six months of research and discussion.  This forum, offered as part of Millersville University’s week-long Education on Location initiative, will outline some exciting proposals and solicit your feedback on them and other business-education partnership opportunities for Lancaster County.

One of the programs sure to be noted in the forum is our Women in Business Mentoring program.  This program, now entering its fifth year, connects female high school students with businesswomen for both mentorship and real-life workplace experiences.  More than 50 women have volunteered for this year’s program that will undoubtedly have a lasting impact on both the mentee and the mentor.  Although we have successfully matched all our volunteers with students for this academic year, please make a note to see how you can get involved next year as the program continues to grow.

Another key program slated for this fall is our annual Pathways to Gold Collar Career Night.  This program, done in partnership with the Workforce Investment Board and the Lancaster County Career and Technology Center, offers a chance for companies in the trade and technology sector to showcase their career opportunities to area youth and, as importantly, their parents.  Y’know, one of the first steps toward ensuring a qualified workforce is to make sure that people are aware of the education that is needed to excel in certain fields; additionally, one of the first steps toward ensuring our young people stay in Lancaster County is by making them aware of the variety of opportunities that exist here.  This program accomplishes both of those tasks and we couldn’t be prouder to participate.  Contact The Chamber if you are interested in showcasing your company at this year’s November 7 event.

For those too busy to give of their time at an event or program, I invite you to take a look at our Career Connect section on our website.  This valuable resource page provides useful tips on how educators, business people and students can benefit from connections being made in our local community.  From internship and job shadowing opportunities to guest speakers in the classroom, I encourage you to explore this on-line directory and find a way to get involved.

Finally, I can’t talk about The Chamber’s role in education without mentioning our ongoing advocacy activity aimed at reducing cost-driving, unnecessary state mandates from our local schools.  From pension reform to purchasing reform, we must work together to unburden our local educational institutions from overly intrusive mandates while also working together on building an efficient and comprehensive educational system that will serve our community well for decades to come. 

Please, find a way to be part of the solution.  Our youth, our workforce and our economy depend on it.

Until next time, stay informed, stay engaged and stay with us, At the Center.

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