Investing in Our Future

By Andrea H. Reay CEO/President Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce When I first started working at the Chamber three years ago, I asked our members what the number one issue impacting their business was. Their answer: “workforce.” Access to skilled and trained employees was their number one issue then and continues to be the primary concern among our local businesses. As the primary non-profit focused on serving our business community, we wanted to take a proactive approach to helping our local businesses succeed and identified education and workforce development as the way to begin to bridge the gap between the people living in our community that need better, higher paying jobs and the businesses that need skilled workers. There is a workforce shortage, and equally at play is a skill shortage. Our Chamber is dedicated to building that bridge and to find an end to end, business led solution to both the worker and skill shortage. That is why we launched our Success Foundation. That is why we built a workforce coalition of members and partners. The Workforce Innovation Network (W.I.N. for short) was formed because we all win when our businesses can grow, and our community is rightfully employed. As Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” That is why we also launched an Exploring Post with Scouts BSA this summer to introduce our local youth to a world of work outside their immediate frame of reference and experience. This summer we are serving youth from Highline and Tyee High School. They are participating in the NASA ANGLeS Challenge. They will have a chance to compete with other teams from across the Pacific Northwest on July 19th at the University of Washington. If they are successful, they could win a trip to a Johnson Space Center in Houston! Together, with our members and partners we are inspiring, mentoring and coaching our next generation of leaders. This work is necessary. This work will provide sustainable economic development and has the power to lift our community out of poverty in just one generation. But, we cannot do this work alone. I encourage you to reach out to us to learn more about our Education and Workforce Initiatives here at the Chamber. Maybe your business is interested in joining our coalition? Maybe you have time and could volunteer at our Exploring Post this summer? Maybe you have money left in your budget to make a tax-deductible donation before the end of the year? Thank you to our donors that made this summer program a reality for our kids this year. However, we are still in need of sponsors and donors to ensure this work can continue in the future and that we can serve more in our community. If you, or your business is capable and interested in volunteering or sponsoring a kid or our program, please let us know. Any and all help is much appreciated and will go a long way to ensure that our community is ready to meet any and all future challenges. For more information about our Success Foundation and the specific initiatives, please visit our website, send an email [email protected] or give our office a call at (206) 575-1633. Andrea H. Reay is the President/CEO of Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce: “A voice for business, a leader in the community.” Seattle Southside Chamber has served the communities of Burien, Des Moines, Normandy Park, SeaTac and Tukwila since 1988. For more information about the Chamber, including a full list of member benefits and resources, please visit their website at]]>