Driving Solutions at the Business Leaders’ Summit

WRITTEN BY lclark 6 days ago

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While the weather made for an interesting morning drive, the wind could not withstand the force of the leaders that filled the room for the second annual Business Leaders’ Summit.

Nearly 100 business and community leaders joined together to kick off 2019. The half-day session included the Chairman’s passing of the gavel, a look at 2018 Chamber achievements and breakout discussions on top regional challenges.


First up, 2018 Chairman of the Board, Mark Lattanzio, took the stage. Mark highlighted the efforts undertaken over the past year to address our metro’s challenges, including:

  • The release of the 2018 update to the Talent Demand Study, showing that 80% of our job growth will be in 10 specific occupation categories
  • A public relations campaign to increase awareness of our housing attainability crisis, resulting in presentations to more than 1,000 community leaders, over 20 media exposures and nearly 37,000 digital and social media exposures
  • The efforts of the Chamber’s Government Relations team and Board of Directors to demonstrate the support of the business community for the completion of I-526

Next up, 2019 Chair, Melonie Hammond-Trace, shared her top five goals for the Chamber in 2019:

  • Amplifying the Chamber’s story and our efforts to drive solutions for a thriving community
  • Advocating as One Region
  • Focusing on Infrastructure, including the completion of I-526 and Lowcountry Rapid Transit
  • Ensuring school funding matches our expectations for preparing our future workforce
  • Continuing to spread awareness of the crisis and advocate for attainable housing solutions

Join fellow leaders this fall in Salt Lake City to explore how they have addressed similar regional challenges for the 2019 Metro Leadership Visit. Click to be notified when registration opens.

Before heading to the breakout sessions, Chamber President and CEO, Bryan Derreberry, shared the Chamber’s top achievements from 2018… including being named Chamber of the Year. Yes, you can pat yourself on the back… it is because of you and each of our members that we were able to receive this achievement. So thank you!

Check out Bryan’s Chamber Annual Report Slide Deck


Breakout Sessions

Following the morning session, attendees broke out into four sessions to engage in lively conversations on some of our region’s most critical challenges. Sessions included:

► Accelerating Transportation Infrastructure, led by Steve Dudash of Thomas & Hutton
► Attracting and Retaining Talent, led by Sally Ehrenfried of Blackbaud
► Building Productive Public-Private Partnerships, led by Adam Ferrara of Ferrara Buist Companies
► Developing Your Workforce Through Partnerships, led by Laura Varn of Laura Varn and Associates

Here’s a quick recap of the top takeaways from each session and how you can further engage in the topic.

Accelerating Transportation Infrastructure

  • The 2019 Infrastructure Priorities Report was presented, which focuses on 23 of what the room called “the right projects”. Increased focus on drainage and flooding resiliency projects is needed in the future.
  • A regional, business-led presence in Washington D.C. to push for infrastructure funding support could be effective with enough persistence.
  • Additional research is needed on the I-526 Wando Bridge to ensure it is safe.
  • Beyond funding support, Chamber advocacy efforts need to focus on any opportunity to expedite the approval and construction process.
  • Our behavior and commute choices are controllable factors that could help mitigate traffic now – look for more on Reboot the Commute from the Charleston Regional Development Alliance this Spring.

Get Engaged:

Attracting and Retaining Talent

  • Culture is important but everyone’s culture is unique. Find a culture that fits your organization, people and goals. The key is to ASK your employees what they want, what is important to them and what makes them want to stay… and use that as your guide.
  • Remote work has its pluses and minuses. While it is a perk, you can lose the creative edge of employees working together in a central spot. Explore core hours to provide flexibility while maintaining an office presence.
  • Now, more than ever, employees desire a sense of community, belonging and purpose with their employer.

Get Engaged:

  • Encourage your top human resources staff to participate in the Human Resources Professional Network. To learn more, contact Scott Barhight.
  • Help your young professionals become integrated into the community through Charleston Young Professionals.

Building Productive Public-Private Partnerships

  • Session took a first look at the Chamber’s new Investment Opportunity Study.
  • The study’s purpose is to establish a fact-based platform for collaborative partnerships between the Chamber and local governments on shared priorities.
  • This effort can affect change in local municipalities. Leaders need to take this information and use it as a springboard to generate discussion with municipalities and inform groups.
  • Key focus points of change are reducing traffic by building homes and jobs closer together and reducing permit and development timelines.

Get Engaged:

Developing Your Workforce through Partnerships

  • Schools, both K-12 and colleges, need to ensure students are exposed to more experiential learning opportunities before graduation.
  • We need a “hub”, a place to collect all the resources available to students, employers and job seekers.
  • Companies need to serve as not just consumers of talent, but producers, by being actively engaged in growing the talent pipeline through things like internships, apprenticeships, co-ops, etc.

Get Engaged:

  • Check out the 2018 Talent Demand Study Update
  • Activate young minds for the future through Career Academies or Youth Apprenticeships
  • Spread the word about the region’s talent demand, here are some suggested social posts:
    • In the next five years, the Charleston region will add nearly 35,000 new jobs – that is 32% higher than predicted in 2016. @chaschamber #talentgap
    • 80% of Charleston’s job growth will be in 10 specific occupation categories, including: Production & Mechanical, Hospitality, Medical, Business Operations Support, Software & IT, among others. @chaschamber #talentgap

Thank you for helping us drive solutions for a thriving community. We are eager to continue to work alongside you in addressing these critical issues. Throughout the year, we will reach out to provide you additional resources, engage you in discussions and ask you to share your voice.

Want to further share your voice? Become a Champion Advocate, a multi-generational body of grassroots leaders who are using all forms of communication to advance the Chamber’s policy and issue positions.

Thank you to our sponsors!

Presenting Sponsor:
Elliott Davis

Session Sponsors:
Heritage Trust Federal Credit Union
Low Country Case & Millwork
Thomas & Hutton

Hospitality Sponsor:

Catering Sponsor:
South Carolina Federal Credit Union

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