2015 Program of Work

Introduction
     The Aiken Chamber’s 2015 program of work continues its second year of a multi-year process that creates viable, proactive mechanisms that drive a force for Aiken’s prosperity in the 21st century through Economic Vitality initiatives. The purpose of this long-term course of work is to:

• reawaken and re-engage the general public and business community about the needs necessary for business growth and job creation

• raise awareness of the fact that business climate is the #1 factor of a successful community

• continue the five-year evolving plan, begun in 2014, that leads to the community’s long-term prosperity through taking risk, rewarding success, and growing families

     The Chamber believes it is essential for business and the public sector to seek out common ground and to find ways to bolster each other. Policies and practices that help strengthen a free enterprise system are those that do the following:

• Allow businesses to grow and thrive

• Free businesses from excessive taxes, unnecessary regulations, and onerous local government processes

• Focus government on the critical tasks that are the foundation of economic opportunity, such as infrastructure and protective services

• Help educate, cultivate, and equip the next generation of young entrepreneurs and the workforce of the future

Key Economic Vitality Initiatives for 2015

• Evaluate the first year of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!), develop a strategy for future recruitment, and recruit students for the 2016 class. (YEA! is a nationally recognized program that transforms middle and high school students into real, confident entrepreneurs during the academic school year.

• Add year #2 to the annual community benchmarking process to aid in community decision making. The purpose of the benchmarking is to measure the Aiken community’s programs, processes, performance, efficiencies, and effectiveness in meeting the current and future needs of the community. The 2015 process will evaluate the community’s progress in addressing shortcomings (red flags) defined in the 2014 baseline benchmarking report, and in setting short- and long-term goals and expectations for Aiken’s prosperity in the 21st century. The process will include the community’s public and private sectors.

• Define an aspirational U.S. city where Aiken community and business leaders can visit to learn about best practices that have been successful in that city. Arrange an inter-city visit with an agenda that defines goals of the visit and inspires new ideas for the group to possibly implement in the Aiken community.

• Adapt the Chamber’s resources to focus on economic vitality through ongoing organizational improvement, including updating the Chamber website to optimally align with current information seeking mechanisms.

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