Monday, January 21st, 2019

2018 Chairman of the Board - Steve Petry

It has been a privilege serving on the board of the Huntington County Chamber of Commerce. On its behalf, I would like to extend our thanks and appreciation to our membership and the partnerships they have forged within this community. The Chamber is committed to responsibly investing into initiatives and activities that align with our mission, but at the end of the day, it is about changing lives. We want to be relevant to the community that we serve. The relationships that we develop with our membership give us insight and direction for fulfilling our purpose.

Before looking forward to 2018, I want us to remind ourselves of the many accomplishments and programs that your Chamber has been involved with over the past few years starting with our continuous support of the Learning Center which opened in 2016. The Chamber has been instrumental in organizing and facilitating the dialogue between the School Corporation, the Learning Center and local industry to develop the programs for much-needed skills used in industry today. We also organized the meetings between WorkOne and the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) and the Huntington County Economic Development, where we were able to earn grants that paid for the training of those individuals at no cost to the industry. In one year’s time, the Learning Center has more than doubled the amount of adult students attending classes. During the 2017 year, the Learning Center had 130 adult students taking classes in Industrial Maintenance, CNC, Welding, and more. All of the students are working toward their HSE (High School Equivalence, formerly GED) or certifications.

Another important accomplishment was organizing the Veterans Day parade and celebration. More than 800 people came out in the bitter cold to help Huntington County dedicate the Vietnam War Monument honoring those who served in Vietnam. Of those 800 people, 250 were family members of those who served. Many of those individuals stayed in Huntington motels, ate at local restaurants, purchased gasoline, and shopped at our retail outlets. So we not only honored our veterans, but supported our community businesses as well.

Career Day was expanded this year to include the seniors at Huntington North High School. In prior years, we only had the freshmen class attend the event. This year, we wanted to expose the seniors to local industry with the hopes of making a connection between students and employers. And working with Life Long Learning, the Chamber helped organize and plan the “Walk Into My Future” event where all kindergarten and first grade students were introduced to the college environment. HCCSC took more than 800 students onto the campus of Huntington University where they heard professors and college students discuss the college experience. Students that attended had the opportunity to see what life on campus is all about and hopefully were encouraged to consider college in the future.

For the first time in its five year history, the Farmers’ Market has a paid market master. The Chamber organized the first Farmers’ Market in 2013 and it has become a unique and positive addition to our community. We also hope you have noticed our “Eat. Shop. Live. Do More Huntington,” marketing campaign, this year; as well as our growing Gift Check program. These are just a couple examples of using creative ways to keep business local.

Another important mission of the Chamber is ensuring that businesses of all scale have the opportunity to build meaningful relationships through the Chamber Ambassador volunteer group, networking events, ribbon cuttings, open houses and After Hour celebrations. We also offer many different types of seminars and programs intended to enhance the professional development of our local business community, such as the HR/Professional Development Group, 12@12’s, Lunch ’n Learns, and Leaders EDGE. The Leaders EDGE group reorganized in 2016, under the facilitation of Dr. Evan Wood, and continues to provide topics of interest to many of the leaders in Huntington County.

Finally, the Chamber strives to keep the community informed of local business happenings through newsletters, Chamber Notes, social media, websites, and the Chamber app. We don’t always receive the credit, but we can be proud to have been the institution that planned, organized, and implemented these initiatives.

In 2018, our goal is to reevaluate our structure and relevance in Huntington County. We understand that the business environment has changed and we want to be proactive in responding to these changes. We will be reaching out to our membership and using the many skills of our board to better serve you. We see the Chamber as a partnership and want to encourage you to participate more this year.