mcdorman2008Mike McDorman, President & CEO
     Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce

When I travel I always make a point of picking up other community’s visitor guides, community books and promotional brochures. I’ve noticed a trend towards “Best Of” guides that highlight the community’s best restaurants, best attractions and best events. These guides are particularly useful if you’re traveling, or are new to the community, as they often feature a good deal of “local knowledge” and “best kept secrets”.

It struck me recently that Greater Springfield would be a perfect fit for the “Best Of” treatment. We’re blessed with a wealth of great amenities and it’s time we let everyone in on the secret. To that end we are pleased to announce a new Chamber publication – The Best of Springfield – that will debut this fall.

What’s unique about our publication is that the general public will determine the “Best Of” winners in eighteen different categories ranging from Best Fine Dining and Best Date Spot, to Best Ice Cream and Best Pizza. Online voting is currently open at www.BestOfSpfld.com. Voting will run throughout the summer and close on August 30th. Businesses are encouraged to campaign via social media and point-of-purchase signage to be provided by the Chamber.

The Best of Springfield will include profiles of the category winners and runners-up, insider tips from local residents, feature stories on our local heritage businesses and much more. The glossy magazine will make its debut at a special event scheduled for October 22nd where the winners will be announced, and honored. All winners will receive a special Best of Springfield award and window cling designating them as the “Best of the Best”.

A total of 10,000 issues of The Best of Springfield will be printed and distributed via direct mail, visitor information centers, new resident packets and special events. We anticipate readership of the inaugural issue to exceed 30,000. Advertising opportunities are available in this new publication. You may contact Eric Sirons for more information at: 937-521-1943.

While you need not be a Chamber member business to be named a “Best Of” winner, we certainly hope that our member businesses will help spread the word and promote our new publication. If early returns are any indication the races will be tight!

We’re excited to help promote Greater Springfield to a new audience, in a new way. We see great opportunity in this innovative publication and we look forward to your input!

Contest Website: www.BestOfSpfld.com 

Have a Great Chamber Day!

mcdorman2008Mike McDorman, President & CEO
     Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce


This week marks the beginning of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. If you are like me, you will be watching closely to see if your favorite team wins and advances this weekend. We are building a winning team in Springfield that will compete to bring people and jobs to our community, and a big part of our future success will depend upon the quality of our parks.

In 2009 the community vision plan Greater Springfield Moving Forward was formed and five key areas were targeted to make our region better. One of the areas the community pointed to and wanted to see addressed was the county’s parks and green spaces. In 2011 the combined Clark County Parks District and National Trail Parks and Recreation District levy passed with hopes of generating approximately $1 million for NTPRD and $390,000 for the Clark County Park District. Although more money is needed to support our parks, the passage of this levy was a big step forward for our parks and for our community.

Recently, my friend and longstanding Director of the Clark County Parks District, Jim Campbell, announced that he will retire effective May 1 after serving in the position since 1994. He has been a champion for the parks for a long time and will be missed as their leader. I hope his replacement continues what he started more than 20 years ago.

One of the newest members of our community’s winning team is Springfield native Leann Castillo. The Director of NTPRD came back to Springfield in 2011 from the Centerville-Washington Park District. Castillo has already made significant contributions to her hometown of Springfield, leading the community through the construction of the NTPRD Chiller Ice Arena and being an integral part of the first successful levy campaign for the district. Deeply committed to Springfield and Clark County, Castillo is well respected around the state for that commitment and for her humble service to the area and the profession.

Leann was recently named the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association Professional of the Year, while the NTPRD Chiller project won first place for capital improvement projects over $2.5 million. The $8.5 million NTPRD Chiller opened in 2013 and has seen approximately 100,000 visitors in its first year of operation.

The downtown ice arena project also won the OPRA Governor’s Award over three finalists at the Association’s Awards of Excellence. This honor is a best-in-show of the 15 different award winners and includes a $500 contribution to the agency winner.

These state honors and awards clearly show that we are making progress in one of our key vision areas, a renewed focus on our parks. It is up to us to support people like Leann Castillo and Jim Campbell as they continue to work hard to make our region better. My vote is “YES” for our parks!

Have a Great Chamber Day!

Chris HeadshotChris Schutte, Convention and Visitors Bureau Director  

Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce

Downtown Springfield will sparkle with red carpet glam this November when the Clark State Performing Arts Center plays host to the 2016 Miss Ohio USA and Miss Ohio Teen USA pageants. 

Pageant officials made the announcement February 19 prior to the Chamber’s annual meeting.

Miss Ohio USA is part of the Miss Universe Organization – a Donald J. Trump and NCBUniversal joint venture. The pageant had been held in Portsmouth in previous years but outgrew that location.

zThe Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau along with Clark State Community College and Courtyard Marriott began working with pageant officials last year to bring the event to Springfield. miss ohio and teen ohio (800x476)

“We are very excited to welcome the Miss Ohio pageants to Springfield,” said Chris Schutte of the Greater Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau. “This successful bid is a testament to the work of our partners at both Clark State and the Courtyard Marriott. I think it’s fair to say that event organizers were very impressed with their site visits to Springfield. We feel like our facilities and service are unrivaled.”

The event is expected to bring about 2,000 visitors who will fill local hotel rooms, eat at local restaurants and shop in local stores. The economic impact of the event could approach $500,000. Then there is the aesthetic impact. “There will be red carpets and glamour and celebrities,” said Melissa Pitchford, executive state director of the Miss Universe Organization. “It’s just a lot of fun.”

Reigning Miss Ohio USA Sarah Newkirk and Miss Ohio Teen USA Shelby Stapleton joined Pitchford, Schutte and Clark State Community College President Jo Blondin in making the announcement.

“The venue is very important for contestants,” Newkirk said. “Seeing this venue for the first time, I’m very excited. It’s going to be a great year.” The pageant’s goal is to select representatives to be role models, said officials. “… their experience in competing in Greater Springfield alone is a big step to the future that is so open to opportunity.”

The Miss Ohio USA competition consists of three proportional segments: evening gown, fitness/swimsuit and interview. The search for Miss Ohio USA 2016 is currently underway. Qualifications and application information is on the pageant’s website: http://www.MissOhioUSA.com. The winner, Miss Ohio USA 2016, will claim the title and prize list which includes jewelry, travel, wardrobe, over 40,000 dollars in scholarships and will represent the State of Ohio in the MISS USA competition, scheduled to telecast on NBC in 2016. MISS USA ultimately goes on to represent the United States in the MISS Universe® competition in front of a worldwide audience of approximately 1 billion viewers.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for Springfield to demonstrate that we can successfully host a large scale, cache event,” said Schutte. “The event can help bring more recognition to Springfield, and could become an annual event here. We have an expectation we will be their home for the foreseeable future.”

Have a great Chamber day!

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!


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