The Lorain County community was thrilled when Carvana, the innovative automotive retailer that sells new and used cars that can be “delivered” through giant vending machines, wanted to open a processing shop (to get cars ready for sale) in the region. But, the facility required 600 employee positions that had to be filled.
“We were excited that they came here. It’s a good thing,” says Tony Gallo, president and CEO, Lorain County Chamber of Commerce. “But, if 200 people leave their current jobs in Lorain County, then their employers will be without employees. It’s a delicate dance. Everyone is complaining they have three, 30 or 300 job openings. We need to get more people back in the workforce and look at different ways to find those necessary bodies.”
Gallo says chambers are superior at partnering with local and state organizations to help employers with talent acquisition and helping workers enter or re-enter the workforce. His chamber has worked with organizations and employers to eliminate barriers to workers, including exploring more child care options, such as on-site facilities. The goal is to aid parents who are concerned about child care and cost.
In addition, innovative transportation options, such as developing independent bus service catering to dense areas of employees and potential employees, have also been developed. Public transportation is often inadequate, and one-car families are sometimes at a disadvantage. Lorain County companies, including Avient Corp. and Thogus Products, both in Avon Lake, work with the Lorain County Chamber to make it more convenient for employees to get to and from work, according to Gallo.
The Lorain County Chamber of Commerce also focuses on what Gallo calls a “wider net of the minority pool, that includes African Americans, Hispanics, women, the LGBTQ community, disabled individuals, veterans and other historically underrepresented communities.”
Education is also a major component for chambers that work with vocational schools, traditional high schools and institutions of higher learning to help students and their parents make wise career choices and help fill in-demand jobs.
Chambers are in an excellent position to help lessen the workforce crisis and help their members find those needed employees.
According to Cindy Holzheimer, president and CEO of the Northern Ohio Area Chambers of Commerce (NOACC), businesses can capitalize on their memberships for help in finding employees by:
Attending Networking Events
“Making connections can go a long way in finding employee leads and what they are looking for. Good network and strong relationships equal lots of referrals.”
Participating in Business Showcases, Trade Shows and Job Fairs
“Quite a few chambers are organizing and holding job fairs for the sole purpose of connecting job seekers with their next career.”
Evaluating Your Business with Business Assistance Tools
“There are many resources through local chambers to help any business make sure they are set up to attract the talent they are looking for.”
Contributing to Chamber Newsletters and Websites
“Chambers have an amazing network of business and community organizations. Write an article for their newsletters and the chamber website about your company’s open positions.”
Leveraging Chamber Resources
“Most chambers are connected to organizations such as job forums and local educational institutions that can assist with job postings for urgent hiring needs.”
Besides helping employers with talent acquisition, Holzheimer says chambers can also assist those who may wish to “turn their side hustle into a main business.” Let’s say you have had enough crunching numbers for a living or you really don’t find teaching as fulfilling as it once was. Maybe you have been grooming dogs on weekends or helping friends stage houses before being placed on the market. Perhaps your occasional catering services have been in demand more often or you are really good at family tree and ancestry research.
Is it time for a change? You probably don’t want to quit your day job immediately, but the lure of doing something you like better is a strong incentive. Could you make a living doing something else?
“A chamber can help you start that business,” says Holzheimer. “It can help you find funding options, as well as incorporation and organizational resources. It can connect you with state sources that have all of these resources about starting new businesses. Leveraging all of the benefits of chamber membership can really evaluate your new business and gain credibility in your community.”
Holzheimer says most local chambers are willing to work with nonmembers, as well as chamber members in their community. But, of course, memberships help sustain the work of the organization and benefit the entire business community and general public. She also says that while it is important to support the neighborhood chamber in which a business is located, sometimes a dual membership or membership outside the local area is important.
“Find that chamber that works for you, the one that has the resources that you are looking for,” says Holzheimer. “If you are in a small community, your chamber may not have all of the things you are looking for. A regional or county chamber may better fit your needs. Also, while chambers a lot of times offer the same core things, they do a lot of different things to make them stand out.
“While all chambers of commerce have amazing membership benefits, it is a great idea to research a few chambers in your area to ensure your business needs align with benefits offered,” she adds.
A goal of NOACC, with its membership of 127 chambers of commerce across Northeast Ohio, is to grow and enhance chambers and chamber professionals through dynamic benefits and resources. NOACC offers significant savings on various business expenses through its member chambers of commerce. For more information, visit noacc.org. m