Powering Progress

mcdorman2008Mike McDorman, President & CEO
     Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce

This year’s “Dream Big” theme for the Greater Springfield Community is “Innovation-Transformation Powering Progress!”

As you know, The Chamber’s mission is to help area businesses thrive by advancing important economic and workforce development opportunities, promote ideas that will make our region more progressive, and help our companies grow by connecting them with other businesses and the broader community.

As Mark Lautman, our guest speaker at the Chamber’s Annual Meeting, alluded to this past week, we have more than an uphill battle if we continue to do community development the way we have always done it. We will need to change on a dime if we are going to be successful. We will need to believe we have a significant level of influence over our destiny and take bold steps that will help our community jump the curve to change our trajectory towards a brighter future.

It will take more than another community project for us to change our course. It will take real partnership and collaboration working on a common vision for us to be successful. We will need to dream bigger than we have ever dreamed before!

During this past year, your Chamber crossed over some significant milestones in this community that included the completion of some great new physical assets like PrimeOhio II, a double-sided LED billboard on I 70, and a video scoreboard at Carleton Davidson Field.

The Chamber also worked with key stakeholders to form strategic partnerships that will help inform our community’s jobs strategy as we continue to work hard at growing our existing companies and adding new jobs by luring new office and industrial prospects to invest and locate in Greater Springfield.

By stabilizing our legacy manufacturing jobs and diversifying our jobs base to include higher paying professional level positions in the areas of banking, insurance, Bio Medical, and STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math), we will begin to do what Mark says. We will successfully attract, grow and retain workers, then employers will be forced to follow.

This past year the corporate offices Speedway and Konecranes Region Americas, along with Dole Food Company announced major expansions, adding hundreds of new jobs. Many of these new positions will average more than $50,000 per year.

In order to build on these successes The Chamber is working with our key educational partners to develop the workforce that will be needed to accomplish our jobs goals. Through the $11.3 million Straight-A Grant, Springfield City Schools is working with Clark-Shawnee, Springfield CTC, GISA (Global Impact STEM Academy) and Clark State to develop and implement project-based learning curriculum in specific areas that will connect students to the area’s job opportunities. Most of the consortium’s work will take place at the former South High School, now called Greater Springfield CareerConnectED Center.

My pastor likes to say life is a series of climbs. So what is our next climb as a community? It is to devise, implement and execute a community wide master plan that will bring about the great change and transformation that will propel us forward!

Your Chamber looks forward to standing in the gap and helping to lead the charge up this next hill.
By doing this important work together, our vision of our future will succeed, and so will our community!

Have a great Chamber day!

773136f4-8b0b-4477-b430-a96d78085254By Guest Columnist

Mark Lautman

Going to the Next Level

Springfield-Clark County could be the poster child for the country’s growing number of small and medium sized communities slowly losing their economic base, their skilled workforce and populations. A quick audit of your economic and workforce development efforts tells me that you get that you have a problem and you are well ahead of your efforts to elevate and integrate local job creation and workforce development strategies are well ahead of the competition. The question is; Will it be enough? And if the answer is; “probably not” the next question would be; What will it take?

Decades of declining population wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing if the population losses were limited to dependents; too old to work and those unwilling, unable or unqualified to work. A higher proportion of wage earners to dependents each year would allow them to shrink their way to prosperity. Unfortunately, the reverse is occurring. The working age cohorts; 25-34, 35-44, 45-54 and 55-64 year olds are shrinking as the elder non-working cohorts grow. Even if no one left the community during the next ten years the region’s workforce would degrade substantially in both numbers and quality as the over-sized boomer cohorts retire.

While it is difficult to overstate how important reversing this trend is to the future of the community, community leaders are almost certain to underestimate what it will take. You can blame the miscalculation on several recent tectonic shifts in our economy, our demographics and our politics. In other words it isn’t getting any easier.

If there is only enough talent and new job creation to reverse population decline in 20 percent of the at-risk communities in the country. What would you have to do to be one of them? It likely boils down to figuring out how to systematically grow, attract and retain more 24-44 year old workers than you will need to staff the economic base sectors you have chosen.

The first step is getting clarity and consensus on your predicament, the best economic sector bets, and the major factor of production gaps that will stop you. The biggest barrier will be qualified workers; how many workers will you need each year? In which occupations?

Economic developers will need to go on the hook and iterate what specific industry sectors and jobs the community intends to build the future economy around. The community will need to invest what ever it takes to procure and retain those jobs. Employers must define job readiness standards that the educators and prospective employees can use. The community’s workforce development and educational institutions will need to re-proportion their programs and re-calibrate curriculum to match the community’s economic base needs. Consider that you will have to elevate each of these efforts, you will have to integrate them into one strategy and innovate.

This is admittedly a wicked, complex problem that will seem hopeless to many. Accept that you are basically on your own to solve this. If there were a magic formula, best practice or new economic development model we would have heard about it by now. This is uncharted territory. There are no experts. No models.

Springfield -Clark County has the core assets and a head start. Something this important and this hard requires a belief that you have a significant level of influence over your destiny. Embrace the wickedness of the problem. Clarity will come from thinking deeply. Consensus will come from doing that thinking together. It is essentially a design exercise. Become your own Lab.

mcdorman2008Mike McDorman, President & CEO
     Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce


On any given day, about 64,000 Clark County residents head off to work.

The Springfield-Clark County Safety Council would like to see each of those employees return home safe at the end of that work day.

Since 1994, the Safety Council has been providing occupational safety information, educational opportunities and special events to increase occupational safety awareness to businesses.

During the council’s annual CEO meeting in November, I talked to them about the cost of a safety program.

Did you know?

  • Nearly 50 workers are injured every minute of the work week
  • Seventeen workers die on the job each day

The injuries are costly both in human and financial terms. Employers and their insurers pay more than $40 billion in workers compensation benefits, or nearly $500 per covered employee.

Indirect costs of injuries may be 20 times the direct cost. Those include:

  • training and compensating replacement workers
  • repairing damaged property
  • accident investigation and implementation of corrective action
  • scheduling delays and lost productivity
  • administrative expense
  • low employee morale and increased absenteeism
  • poor customer and community relations

In total, workplace injuries last year alone cost society an estimated $128 billion, which equals one-quarter of each dollar of pre-tax corporate profits.

On the other hand, a safety and health management program can significantly reduce the risks to both your employees and your bottom line.

According to OSHA’s office of Regulatory Analysis, companies that implement effective safety and health plans can expect reductions of 20 percent or greater in their injury and illness rates and a return of $4 to $6 for every $1 invested.

As one of the leaders at FirstEnergy (my former employer) it was my responsibility to help drive a strong safety culture. When you’re dealing with electrical power lines, you don’t mess around with safety. It was the first thing I talked about at every meeting. It was the first thing we addressed every morning.

During my years at First Energy we rarely had an accident during a storm occurrence. Accidents were more likely to occur on a sunny day when workers became complacent about routine tasks – tasks that they had performed thousands of times, such as climbing a ladder, using a pocket knife or backing a truck into one of the bays.

It happens at work and it happens at home: a local business owner is injured when he falls off of a ladder at home; another one loses some fingers from an accident with a saw. Whether you’re trimming the hedges or painting a wall, failure to observe safety can cause a serious injury that can affect not only you, but your family, your employer, your coworkers and your community.

On the other hand, when you make safety first, you have more time to concentrate on important things like moving yourself, your company and your community forward.

Have a great Chamber day!

mcdorman2008Mike McDorman, President & CEO
     Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce


Chamber to Bring in National Expert for Annual Meeting 

This time of year I always look forward to watching the Super Bowl and the wild and crazy commercials that come along with it. Even though my team was not in the mix, this year’s game once again offered some exciting moments. As far as the commercials, there were definitely some winners and some losers. It is going to be the same way for communities like Greater Springfield as they make plans to move forward, or simply embrace the status quo and decline.

Mark Lautman, nationally recognized author of “When The Boomers Bail – How Demographics will Sort Communities into Winners and Losers,” will point to some keys to our success in moving our community forward as the special guest speaker

Mark Lautman

Mark Lautman

at the Chamber’s annual meeting on February 19.

Mark is a founding director of the Community Economics Lab, a private, not-for-profit that innovates new approaches to economic development to work in a labor and capital-constrained economy. He works with community leaders to transform community economies and elevate the professional practice of economic and workforce development. Mark has three decades of experience as a professional economic developer, and has designed and managed four economic development programs having procured more than 80 corporate locations, accounting for more than 15,000 new jobs, 6 million square feet of industrial space and $11 billion dollars in new investment.

In a recent blog Mark writes, “A looming, zero-sum market for qualified workers reverses the traditional economic development process. Today, a community’s quality metrics must be strong enough to attract, grow and retain enough qualified workers to staff the economic base and service sector economy or face economic stagnation and contraction. Economic development now is as much about attracting, growing and retaining qualified workers as it is about attracting, growing and retaining employers. In other words, economic development has become a talent attraction game. If your community can successfully attract, grow and retain workers, then employers will be forced to follow.

The business of developing comprehensive workforce development strategies as an integrated part of economic development is in its infancy. There are many vectors at work on the scale, nature and quality of a region’s labor market. Achieving a common understanding of these dynamics and a unified sense of what should be done will require a second assessment process, focused on the workforce or the population side of the equation.”

A talent attraction strategy looks much like a job creation strategy. It lays out how many and what kind of qualified workers will be needed to staff the future economy. We need to understand this concept as we seek to move our community forward.

The good news is we are already seeking to get on the right path with OhioMeansJobs Clark County, our city school district collaborating with the county school districts, Clark State, The Chamber and many other key stakeholders all working together to develop a more prepared workforce that will help, in turn, build a vibrant community where many will choose to live.

Mark Lautman, and other outside experts like him, will help point us in the right direction. However, we as a community will need to build the right jobs strategy, take the mitigated risks, and walk through the open door. By doing this important work together, our jobs strategy will succeed, and so will our community!

Have a great Chamber day!

Chris HeadshotFrom guest columnist

Chris Schutte

Greater Springfield Convention & Visitors Center

Did you know that the tourism industry in Clark County accounts for $368 million in local economic impact generated by visitor spending?

According to research by Tourism Economics and Longwoods International, our local tourism industry also sustains nearly 8 percent of Clark County’s salaried employment, or 4,300 total jobs. The Greater Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau is the local organization responsible for telling the story of what makes Springfield a unique and unforgettable destination.

To familiarize you with the CVB’s role in our community, here are a few highlights from the past year:

A New Brand for Greater Springfield

The Greater Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau began 2014 with a rebranding process designed specifically to appeal to potential visitors. The rebranding process, led by Hucklebuck Design Studio, began by engaging local tourism stakeholder groups and expanded to include focus group sessions with tourism front staff personnel.

The four-month discovery, benchmarking and brand strategy process resulted in new brand iconography that emphasizes Springfield’s central location within the state of Ohio. The new “Find Your Unwind” tagline helps establish Greater Springfield as a destination where visitors can enjoy unique experiences at a relaxed pace.

A brand launch party for local stakeholders and media was held this past August at the Westcott Solar House. The official roll-out of the brand included its insertion on local tourism partner ads appearing on the new CFA-funded LED billboard along Interstate 70.

As we move forward, the new brand will influence the redesign of the CVB’svisitor guide and digital presence, and will be a visible presence in Greater Springfield as the first of seven custom-wrapped SCAT buses hit the streets.

2014 Ohio Conference on Tourism

More than 300 travel professionals from across the state were introduced to Springfield and all it has to offer, when the CVB hosted the Ohio Travel Association’s Conference on Tourism in August.

TourismOhio Director, Mary Cusick, was among attendees who represented nearly every facet of the industry. The immediate economic impact of the conference was an estimated $300,000 as well as the intangible impact of exposing these top tourism professionals to the community.

I-70 LED Billboard 

Travelers along Interstate 70 began seeing Springfield in a brand new light this summer thanks to a new LED billboard, funded by the Clark County Convention Facilities Authority. The CVB was entrusted with creating the content for the billboard as well as maintaining that content on a consistent basis. The tourism-centric ads, seen by an estimated 60,000 travelers daily, are offered free of charge to our local tourism partners.

Statewide Marketing Awards

This fall the Greater Springfield CVB received 11 awards for marketing excellence – six MIDDY awards from the Ohio Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus and five RUBY awards from the Ohio Travel Association. The RUBY awards included the coveted Delegates Choice Award for the CVB’s new brand.

Award-Winning Visitors Center

Champion City Guide & Supply – a partnership between the Greater Springfield Chamber and CVB – received national recognition in August when it was awarded a special certificate of excellence from the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE). Champion City’s unique mix of visitor services, heritage brand apparel and locally-sourced gift items continues to increase local pride in the community, increase foot traffic downtown and validate downtown Springfield as a viable location for retail business.

2015 and Beyond

As we enter 2015, the Greater Springfield CVB is embarking on a number of new initiatives designed to expand our promotional reach, increase engagement with our audience and position Greater Springfield as one of Ohio’s key destinations.

We’re anxious to unveil our new “mobile first” web platform in March, which will be followed closely by a completely new print version of our Greater Springfield visitors guide. We are working with local partners to create new experiential tourism offerings, and hope to add a new tourist information kiosk and wayfinding signage downtown.

This is an exciting time for tourism as our industry continues to rebound and grow past its previous peak levels. It’s also an exciting time for Greater Springfield as we are positioned to offer visitors everything from whitewater kayaking and world-class museums, to architectural gems and the best bike trails in the Midwest.

So as we say here at the CVB, get out there and “Find Your Unwind!”

mcdorman2008Mike McDorman, President & CEO
     Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce


The recent announcements of two major anchors leaving the Upper Valley Mall, and new retail developments coming to the region and to North Bechtle Avenue can be confusing to area shoppers.  These decisions have been happening throughout the country and are not unique to Springfield.  As retail shopping habits continue to change, so do our major shopping areas located throughout the Springfield area.

Most of us were very disappointed to hear the news that both Macy’s and JC Penney’s were leaving the Upper Valley Mall.  These anchors have played a very important role in the mall’s success since it opened in 1971.  Up until that time much of the retail shopping opportunities within the region had been centered in downtown Springfield.  Many retailers flocked to the Upper Valley area to take advantage of the traffic that would come to the new enclosed mall.

More recently, regional suburban retail developments like Fairfield Commons, The Greene, Austin Landing, Easton, Tuttle and locally, the North Bechtle corridor, have made it increasingly difficult for local malls like Upper Valley to compete.  In addition, mobile e-commerce continues to change the way people buy goods and services, and that has placed a real impact on local retailers.  One thing is clear, area shoppers have continued to shift their buying habits to those settings as opposed to shopping at our local mall.

Experts will tell you retail is all about traffic, and as our population declined and our demographics changed, we have found ourselves in a very different position than we were in forty years ago.  Retail companies look at how many people live within 1, 5, 10, 20, or 30 miles from where they might locate and make investment decisions based on the number of potential shoppers in that vicinity who might buy from their stores.  If they see the opportunity for success, the investment is made and a new store opens in that retail development.

So what can we do about our present situation?  Here are some local leader excerpts from News-Sun articles on the announcements:

Horton Hobbs, VP of Economic Development, at the chamber said, “Retail is rapidly changing and local officials need to rally around the mall.”

George Degenhart, German Township Planning and Zoning Director added, “This week’s dual announcements – along with recent closings at other area Upper Valley Pike stores like Kmart – will force local government and business officials to band together to come up with new solutions for how to market the area.”

County Commissioner John Detrick said the loss of these department stores will cost the county about $165,000 in tax revenue and he would like to get new stores in there as soon as possible.

If the community wants to see the Upper Valley Mall area turn around, community leaders will need to develop a creative plan for its future success.  We will need to attract an anchor that will help make it a destination again.  The mall area certainly has the potential to be a great mixed use development for our community, but it will take the right opportunity and some time to play out.  With the North Bechtle area filling up, the future could be bright for the Upper Valley location if the community can put together the right plan.

Have a Great Chamber Day!

mcdorman2008Mike McDorman, President & CEO
     Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce

Chamber to Host Business-Building Events in 2015

As we welcome 2015, we would like to encourage you to mark your calendar for a year full of exciting chamber events designed to help you expand your network and business knowledge this year:


We will start out the year with our January 29 Members Luncheon beginning at noon in the Bushnell Building, covering a topic on all of our minds after the holidays – getting and staying healthy in the new year. This panel discussion will cover health-related topics, from the latest technology to help you stay fit, to methods to cope with stress.


We are excited to announce Mark Lautman, best-selling author of “When Boomers Bail; How demographics will sort communities into winners and losers,” as the keynote speaker at our Annual Meeting and Business Expo, on Feb. 19 beginning at 2 p.m. in Clark State’s Performing Arts Center and the Hollenbeck Bayley Center. One-half of the Expo booth spaces have been reserved, so secure your spot today to make sure you are part of this exciting event! Contact Chris Schutte for more information.


Meet and greet your fellow chamber members during our first Chamber Night Out for 2015 on March 12 beginning at 4:30 p.m. This relaxed get-together will be held at “The Cellar” in the Bushnell Banquet Center.

Meet us for lunch on March 26 at noon in the Bushnell Building when we tackle the topic of data security and what you can do to make your company’s data more secure in 2015.


Windy Knoll Golf Club will host our April 9 Chamber Night Out starting at 4:30 p.m., while our April 30 Members Luncheon will begin at noon in the Bushnell Building and will include a local expert on content marketing and how to get your business in front of your target audience.


The MacRay Co. will host the May 14 Chamber Night Out starting at 4:30 p.m. in the company’s new downtown location at 100 W. North St.


Play Ball! Join your fellow chamber members for Chamber Night Out at the Champion City Kings game on June 4 beginning at 4:30 p.m.


Our July 9 Chamber Night Out will be held at the newly renovated International Harvester Credit Union offices on Urbana Road starting at 4:30 p.m.
Improve your business communications during our July 30 Members Luncheon, covering the topic of business writing. The Members Luncheon begins at noon and is held in the Bushnell Building.


Our Annual P. Dennis Sheehan Memorial Chamber Open will be held at Windy Knoll Golf Club on August 17.
Our Members Luncheon will be held the following week on August 27.


Opportunities for Individual Change (OIC) will host our Sept. 10 Chamber Night Out beginning at 4:30 p.m., while our Sept. 24 Members Luncheon will cover the topic “Building a Brand” and will start at noon in the Bushnell Building.


We will be announcing a new, exciting event to replace our Golden Leaf Monte Carlo this fall.  Stay tuned for more information on this not-to-miss event!


The location of our Nov. 12 Chamber Night Out will be announced soon.


Our final event of 2015 will be Christmas at Commerce Point, Dec. 17.

Thank you for a great 2014.

We look forward to an exciting new year ahead.


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