As Published by Blue Ridge Now 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

With the New Year, came a new strategic plan for the Henderson County Chamber of Commerce. Our previous strategic plan was a three-year initiative that began in 2014 with lofty goals in four main areas of focus — public policy, community development, business development, and workforce development.

Through the leadership of 2014 Board Chairman Dr. Molly Parkhill, 2015 Board Chairman Steve Dozier and 2016 Board Chairman Fair Nabers Waggoner, most of the efforts laid out in the 2014-2016 Strategic Plan were achieved. However, with a growing business community, the Chamber’s work is never done. We continue to work hard to insure that Henderson County is a great place to live, work and play for future generations.

 

The 2017 Strategic Plan, developed during the Board of Directors Retreat in December, keeps the areas of focus but looks to hone in on specific aspects of each area that we feel will make Henderson County’s future the brightest.

Community Development — This Task Force, chaired by Melanie Matteson with the Hendersonville Lightning, plans to focus their efforts on the Ecusta Trail and the county’s youth summer camp industry.

The Ecusta Trail has the potential to be a “Significant Community Impact” project that solidifies our region as an outdoor recreation destination while at the same time improving upon an already exceptional quality of life. The group plans to organize trips to other high-impact rails-to-trail projects so that community leaders can become familiar with the economic and social benefits offered by the trails. They are also communicating with representatives of other groups associated with the development of the Ecusta Trail to get their input and ideas for moving the project forward.

The youth summer camp industry already has a significant positive impact on Henderson County — more than $120 million a year. The group offers their support to the businesses impacted by the camp industry and is investigating ways to enhance the economic impact. Plans are to develop a program targeting camper parents and encouraging them to spend time enjoying everything Henderson County has to offer before or after they drop-off/pick-up their camper.

The Task Force dedicated to Workforce Development is chaired by Graham Fields of Park Ridge Health. This Task Force’s efforts continue to focus on labor shortage issues facing many of our employers.

One of the issues this group plans to tackle is “How do we educate young people about the great opportunities that are available to them in Henderson County and, then, encourage them to take these opportunities?” Several initiatives are underway to answer this question — providing information to young people (as young as eighth grade) and parents about local career opportunities, finding career mentors for non-four year college students, show young people the benefits of non-college degree careers, provide more soft skills training for high school students, develop a follow-up for students who show an interest in tech careers after they have toured a manufacturer — just to name a few.