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RLACC 2019 Business Plan: Economic Development Division

Posted by: JustinFreeman on Monday, February 25, 2019

As seen in the March edition of the Chamber Voice, the 2019 Business Plan was created to introduce you to the Strategic Plan’s Critical Success Factors and supporting Program of Work. Our mission is “to be the voice of business, to promote and initiate responsible economic growth, and to address community challenges in the Rogers-Lowell Area and region.” We’re celebrating our 97th year as the premier advocacy organization for business and we take our leadership role of being the Keeper of the Community Vision and Voice of Business seriously.

To accomplish our mission, we’re growing business and building community through mission-based strategic focus areas and increased collaboration with our members, partners and investors. Strategic areas
of focus include economic development, downtown development, workforce recruitment and retention, government affairs, small business outreach, destination marketing, community education and leadership programs, and long-range community planning to improve quality of life. Below is the Business Plan for the Economic Development Division.

Economic Development

New job creation and business expansion impact businesses by creating meaningful opportunities for Chamber members to sell their goods and services to new businesses and residents. The Economic Development Division works with industries both large and small in our community to increase job growth and business expansion as well as with individuals to increase our growing small business community.

Strategic Focus Areas:

  • Create and maintain a Cohesive and Connected development community
  • Re-establish Chamber as a point of influence and community resource
  • Address business community needs though short and long term workforce development programs
  • Position the Chamber as the premier resource and connector for small business needs
  • Position Chamber as a community leader for business and professional development needs
  • Create a dynamic region that people want to live, work, and play in

Division Goals:

  • Be a Business-Friendly Community Focused On Business Growth and Commercial Development in Rogers and Lowell

SMARTY Objectives:
1. Continue the growth and development in Rogers and Lowell for Industrial, Retail, Multi-family, and Commercial sectors to grow the local economy and increase job growth.

Actions (Strategies and Tactics):
-Work with developers, large industries, city staff, and community leaders to increase commercial growth by announcing $50 million in new development within Rogers and Lowell in 2019
-Host two Chamber to Community events in 2019 focused on creating connections between developers and city staff
-Host four Large Industry Council meetings in 2019 focused on business interactions and connectivity through idea exchanges and topic-focused discussions

2. Engage with existing industries to discuss expansion and retention plans and opportunities to foster home-grown economic growth.

Actions (Strategies and Tactics):
-Conduct 150 Employer Retention and Expansion Surveys with area businesses and industries
-Update staff on survey data throughout 2019 for Chamber 3.0 opportunities

  • Invigorate Commercial Development in Lowell

SMARTY Objective:
1. Serve as economic development lead for City of Lowell to encourage commercial, industrial, and job growth.

Actions (Strategies and Tactics):
-Meet quarterly with Lowell Mayor and city staff to discuss projects and potential new businesses
-Host two Chamber to Community events in 2019 in cooperation with city hall focused on better understanding the economic development needs for Lowell and its business community
-Incorporate 12 business and community leaders of Lowell into helping create a strategic development plan as part of Chamber’s Vision 2030 Next
-Record and release a “State of the City” podcast with new Mayor

  • Create Workforce Development Opportunities in Our Community

SMARTY Objectives:
1. Provide connections between industries and educators to address workforce needs in our area by creating a pipeline of new workers and educating children and parents of local career opportunities.

Actions (Strategies and Tactics):
-Host two K2J Connect events at manufacturing facilities and one event office environment in 2019
-Facilitate 12 meetings in 2019 between Rogers Public Schools and businesses to create new connections for workforce development opportunities
-Work with Rogers Public Schools to increase enrollment in CTE programming by 10% in the 2019-2020 school year
-Publish nine articles in the Chamber Voice talking about workforce development issues in 2019

2. Provide connections between job seekers and employers to decrease unemployment and create new career opportunities for residents.

Actions (Strategies and Tactics):
-Host two job fairs in 2019 to connect at least 500 job seekers with 100 area employers looking to hire
-Maintain and promote Chamber Job Bank as a free resource to employers by having over 150 job postings in 2019
-Launch HipHire hiring tool connecting small business with part-time employment and internship seekers at the secondary and post-secondary level

3. Implement creative new programs to encourage workforce development programs and career readiness at secondary and post-secondary levels.

Actions (Strategies and Tactics):
-Continue to work in partnership with the Arkansas Treasurer’s office, area schools, cities, and chambers to launch the NWA Promise Program
-Implement “Career Signing Day” at the academic award for Rogers’ schools showcasing students entering directly into the workforce upon graduation

  • Engage the Small Business Community

SMARTY Objectives:
1. Provide in-person and online resources and connections to new and existing small businesses in order to foster an emerging entrepreneurial community within Rogers and Lowell.

Actions (Strategies and Tactics):
-Provide in-person member training in 2019 through six Chamber Tutorial sessions presented by the Small Business Council
-Maintain and update the online Small Business Toolkit with relevant and up to date content quarterly in 2019
-Partner with area institutions and outside trainers to offer business-relevant training four times in 2019 to members and businesses

2. Regularly engage with small business members to receive feedback on Chamber programs and ideas on what more can be done.

Actions (Strategies and Tactics):
-Host two Small Business Roundtables facilitated by members of the Small Business Council to receive in-person feedback from members
-Online survey for small business members twice in 2019 to receive live feedback on program of work and suggestions for Chamber 3.0 for 2020 and beyond

3. Engage the entrepreneur community to attract more start-ups to Rogers.

Actions (Strategies and Tactics):
-Partner with the Rogers Experimental House to better utilize co-work space for small businesses in Downtown Rogers
-Engage companies like We Work or other co-working facilities to consider opening co-work spaces in Rogers
-Partner with World Trade Center, UA Global Campus, Start-Up Junkie, ASBTDC, and other institutions to offer two trainings for entrepreneurs in Rogers and Lowell in 2019

  • Engage Minority Communities within NWA with Programs and Offerings

SMARTY Objectives:
1. Provide program offerings to minority communities within Northwest Arkansas to encourage diversity, equality, and inclusion within the business communities of Rogers and Lowell.

Actions (Strategies and Tactics):
-Offer four Hustle In Heels luncheon programs in 2019
-Offer two Hustle In Heels “pop-up” events in 2019
-Partner with ASBTDC to offer one entrepreneurial training in Spanish

2. Engage the minority community through diversity and inclusion efforts.

Actions (Strategies and Tactics):
-Increase minority participation on the Small Business Council by 20% in 2019
-Provide six trainings for Chamber board, small business council, and staff on DEI issues, problems, and solutions
-Better promote cultural diversity and DEI awareness within NWA through use of Chamber podcasts

  • Continue to Create Quality of Place Initiatives to Attract a Diverse, First-Class Workforce

SMARTY Objectives:
1. Engage community leaders and developers on increasing Quality of Life offerings within Rogers and Lowell to enhance the Quality of Place for residents and visitors to our region.

Actions (Strategies and Tactics):
-Conduct online survey asking residents about Quality of Life needs/desires
-Engage developers on providing multi-family housing with community amenities that is cost-effective for residents (specifically in Downtown Rogers)

2. Keep the community informed and engaged on new and upcoming developments (such as The Railyard Park, Topgolf, etc.) to showcase growth and development within Rogers and Lowell

Actions (Strategies and Tactics):
-Inform the community via 6 Chamber Voice articles showcasing recent developments in 2019
-Post 12 articles about recent growth and development utilizing Chamber social media channels in 2019
-Host 4 podcasts focused on Quality of Place development in 2019.

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