I hope everyone enjoyed Independence Day. The weather sure was beautiful for the long weekend.
Tuesday brought most of us back to work. It is so nice seeing all the visitors and people walking around enjoying the Biddeford+Saco Region. The Chamber certainly hopes all our local businesses are enjoying some summer prosperity.
One item I have touched on in the past was our launch of a workforce development committee. The committee is well represented with 54 members and growing. Workforce needs are a common issue that needs addressing. At recent seminars and workshops. Knowledgeable people stand up and present facts that show Maine is old, Maine's population is shrinking, Maine has a growing workforce gap that will only get worse. Ok already! So what are we going to do?
Well in Biddeford+Saco we have some good news. According to census figures, Biddeford is one of the fastest growing communities (quite possibly the fastest growing community) in the state of people under the age of 30. This growth needs to be embraced and enhanced so that we create jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities to keep them here and bring their friends. Biddeford and Saco saw overall population growth-another positive factor. Both Cities are undertaking strategic planning and community input meetings to get local input and vision to move forward.
The Chamber's Workforce Development Committee began its focus by identifying where citizens can find information on training, education and guidance on career advancement. Local educators identified the need for a much stronger connection between business and the classroom. One idea that we will be developing for Fall will be a guided educational tour of both city's business districts including the industrial and business parks. Consider a local guidance or career counselor who was in school, went to college, graduated and was hired and then spent most days in an office- how will that person be expected to know what the community has to offer in the way of business? We think we can do better and we can bring the many opportunities to light by doing a trolley tour, speaking about the businesses, touring local businesses and having the Chamber continue to develop short videos that guidance departments can show students. We look forward to this task and developing an educated, skilled workforce to fill local jobs.