The Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce is attempting to build a
“Pocket of Greatness” by…
1) BUILDING ON THE POWER OF PLACE
We are all familiar with the fact that markets and industries are becoming more competitive and global in nature. But strangely enough, enduring competitive advantages in a global economy lie increasingly in local things—knowledge, relationships, and motivations that distant rivals cannot match. If you believe this statement to be true, a Chamber should be uniquely positioned to create and foster a regional business climate that increases knowledge and builds upon these distinct relationships.
It’s this “power of place” factor that will become the most important driving factor of competitive success in the future. By working on these “local things,” a Chamber can create a business climate of interconnected firms and institutions whose whole is more than the sum of its parts. This concept, called economic cluster theory in the literature, provides exciting new work for Chambers of Commerce. It provides a new way of producing results that will help to attract, retain, and grow businesses in our region.
2) UNLEASING VALUE THROUGH THE POWER OF COLLABORATION
The best companies are the best collaborators. According to journalist Thomas Friedman, “In the flat world, more and more business will be done through collaborations within and between companies, for a very simple reason: The next layers of value creation—whether in technology, marketing, biomedicine, or manufacturing—are becoming so complex that no single firm is going to be able to master them alone.”
More and more in today’s marketplace, a business’ ability to compete depends on its ability to cooperate. In contrast to land which is typically improved through the act of possession, knowledge is improved through the act of sharing.
The world is starting to move away from a primarily vertical—command and control—system for creating value to a more horizontal—connect and collaborate—value creation model. A 21st Century Chamber should be the primary catalyst for forming such collaborations based upon its relationship in the scheme of things. Increasingly, you will see the Columbus Chamber taking a leadership position in not only helping firms compete but also in helping them collaborate by becoming a connector for members and the institutions that support them.
3) BECOMING HIGH-TECH AND KNOWLEDGE-INTENSE
A reoccurring theme in economic development is that we must lessen our dependence on manufacturing and move toward the attraction and growth of "high-tech" businesses. There are obvious benefits to economic diversification, but such a theme overlooks and diminishes a very important point of distinction: There is no such thing as a low-tech industry—there are only low-tech companies.
The fact is, all companies can employ “high technology,” and all companies can be “knowledge-based.” In truth, the productivity of any company rests not on the industry in which it competes but rather on how it competes. Traditional distinctions between high-tech and low-tech, manufacturing and services, resource-based and knowledge-based have little relevance today. Improving the competitiveness and productivity of all industries is what enhances the prosperity of a city or region. This means that traditional clusters such as agriculture and manufacturing should not be abandoned as suggested; rather, they should be upgraded and built upon.
The way forward is to make it easier for our member companies to make the choice of becoming high-tech and knowledge-intense. A 21st Century Chamber of Commerce must therefore engage members in the pursuit of excellence and growth by helping them become more high-tech through the use of enabling technologies and more knowledge-intense by convening a dialogue around cutting-edge ideas and timeless management practices.
4) FOSTERING A CULTURE OF INNOVATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Few things are more important to our work than recognizing small businesses and helping them to grow. A hands-on approach to helping these businesses succeed leads to innovation and a culture of entrepreneurship which, in turn, leads to the creation of new wealth. Creating this culture is beyond the scope of any one program. It takes the coordination and alignment of all of our regional assets to create a system which fosters an entrepreneurial community.
The Board of Directors for both the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce and Columbus Enterprise Development Corporation (CEDC) have jointly come to an agreement to unite the two programs in an ambitious effort to better serve small businesses and entrepreneurs throughout the regional area.
Along with the SCORE Program, the additional alignment of these programs will provide a “one-stop, one-call approach” for small businesses and entrepreneurs who are seeking start-up planning and growth assistance. It will also result in better ways of teaching entrepreneurs about the fundamentals of money, marketing, and management. The resulting partnership will provide an easy way for small businesses to get help and assistance, to understand what services are available to them, and to make the transition from one partner to another in a more coordinated and seamless way.
5) ATTRACTING, DEVELOPING, AND RETAINING YOUNG TALENT
By 2010 there will be a shortage of 10.3 million workers across all employment categories. In today’s working environment, three out of four young people under the age of 28 first pick a place to live and then find a job. The bottom line is when YPs feel they can make a difference in their community, they are 2 to 3 times as likely to stay. Columbus Young Professionals (CYP) provides social networking, professional development, and community advocacy to young professionals in and around Columbus, Indiana. CYP has over 600 people within its contact sphere—the very people that will look to become our future business and community leaders.