By Candance Brake | Posted: Sunday, May 24, 2015 12:00 am
May is a month of graduations. The Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corporation hosted a graduation ceremony this month, which was sponsored by Western Kentucky University-Owensboro and the Western Kentucky University MBA Program.
Twenty-four emerging community leaders spent the past school-calendar year learning about the inner workings of Greater Owensboro and identifying challenges and opportunities for our community to improve. Emerge Owensboro class participants were charged with class projects which involved identifying a pressing need in the community and crafting a solution.
In the past, there has usually been a mix of areas that class participants identify as issues. This year, every group developed plans and solutions to address our community’s lack of workforce development and talent development/recruitment programs.
On a concurrent track, our staff and board meet regularly with cross sections of the Chamber membership. Workforce issues are discussed at every meeting. Many our members who are major employers go as far as forecasting very dire workforce shortages in the next five to seven years.
What do we do and who is responsible? The Emerge class’s answer was clear. Group after group proposed that collaborations between colleges, employers, school systems, the Chamber and EDC were key to moving in the right direction.
It is clear that we have work to do. Emerge class, thank you for reminding us of the urgency. You have a great insight and the energy to make things happen here. I hope you continue to find ways to contribute and to push for these community reforms.
Emerge Class of 2015
Beth Benjamin, Owensboro Public Schools
Susan Lynn Colbert, Daviess County Public Schools
Jamie Wright, Kentucky Farm Bureau
Candice Cross, Hampton Inn Owensboro – South
Lacey Cunningham, Regional Water Resource Agency
Kevin Dorth, Western Kentucky University
Corey Gant, Owensboro Fire Department/Owensboro YMCA
Lonnie Gentry, First Security Bank, Inc.
Brandon Gilles, Farm Credit Mid-America
Ben Hartz, Hartz Contracting, LLC
Faith Holley, RiverPark Center
Andrew Howard, Independence Bank
Jessica Kirk, Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce
Nicholas Knott, Domtar
Mark McAnulty Kahn, Dees, Donovan & Kahn, LLP
Leslie McCarty, Daviess County Public Library
Austin McLimore, Owensboro Municipal Utilities
Becca McQueen, Kentucky Wesleyan College
Jason Niehaus, South Central Bank
Wes Roberts, Assured Neace Lukens
Nikki Wimpelberg, Owensboro Community and Technical College
Barry Smith, Daviess County Sheriff’s Department
John Walker, Owensboro Family Health Care
Larry Wheatley, Blue Star Consultants