The Farmington Regional Chamber of Commerce is on a roll this year after having experienced a significant increase in its membership and attendance at its various events reaching record highs. There’s also a new chamber event coming in April that is likely to continue the organization’s forward momentum.
Sitting in her office, Executive Director Candy Hente expressed amazement at the number of new members who have joined the chamber over the past year.
“We have more members than we’ve ever had in the history of the chamber,” she said with a smile. “A lot of people have asked if we’re truly a regional chamber, and I can assure you that yes, we most definitely are. We’ve had members join from about five or six different counties. It’s not just limited to the Farmington area.”
Hente stressed that the chamber’s focus goes far beyond increasing its membership from throughout the region.
“The thing is that the perspective and vision we have as a chamber is not just for our immediate city limits and not even just for St. Francois County,” she said. “We want to look at the region as a whole when it comes to tourism and economic development.”
Despite its regional outlook, Hente and Director of Events Deena Ward work hard to maintain a close relationship with the other chambers of commerce in the area.
“Like President John F. Kennedy said, ‘A rising tide lifts all boats’” she said. “When businesses prosper and do well, that provides more jobs locally which then generates more income for our community. All of us are better off in the long run.
In addition to an increase in the chamber’s membership, Hente noted that the 2022 Christmas parade was “bigger than ever,” the number of its Facebook followers have increased, and the monthly Business and Community Luncheon attendance is on the rise.
“The last two luncheons we’ve had, in January we had 120 people there,” she said. “This last month, we had right at 100 people. The Chamber’s strength lies in its membership, enabling us to accomplish collectively what no one could do individually.”
Hente believes there is no better example of the chamber’s desire to help strengthen southeast Missouri businesses than the Regional Workforce Development Conference it will be hosting Wednesday, April 26, at Farmington High School’s Black Knight Field House.
“We’re really excited about this because the conference will be addressing a lot of workforce needs,” she said. “I always ask in our orientation what our members see as their biggest business challenge. They tell me that getting the word out about their business is their number one challenge, but that’s quickly being overshadowed by the importance of finding good workers. We believe there’s not just a singular reason that we’re seeing that, but we certainly want to address an issue that concerns so many of our local businesses.
“Finding and retaining skilled workers has quickly become one of businesses’ greatest challenges,” she said. With this in mind, we are hosting a Regional Workforce Development Conference to discuss and relook at possible answers for you and your business.
According to Hente, the conference will feature several outstanding speakers covering topics of interest to businesses in the region.
“It’s an outstanding lineup,” she said. “Dan Mehan, CEO and president of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, will address where all the workers have gone and what can we do about it. Dan will also bring a statewide perspective, sharing the activities of the Missouri Chamber on this important issue. We will also have Jaclyn Rowe, who is an international speaker, corporate etiquette trainer, personality expert, business owner, and consulting director for the Washington County Industrial Development Authority.
“Providing a local viewpoint will be William Britton. He’s a successful local manager with 19 years of retail experience with low employee turnover. Topics will include Becoming a Better Leader, HR for Small Businesses, Bridging the Generational Gap, Interviewing Tips for a Better Hire, Keys to Retaining Great Employees, Recruiting Tips: Attracting the Right People, and Employee Support Services from Mineral Area College.”
Chamber members can attend the 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. conference for $35. The cost for non-members is $45. Lunch is included in the registration fee. Register at FarmingtonRegionalChamber.com. Call 573-756-3615 for additional information.
“A lot of people have asked if we’re truly a regional chamber, and I can assure you that yes, we most definitely are.” – Candy Hente, Farmington Regional Chamber executive director
Kevin R. Jenkins is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-783-9667 or firstname.lastname@example.org