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  • Automotive
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Where

Writer  / Janelle Morrison
Photographer  /  JJ Kaplan

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Last year, the county’s two largest chambers of commerce merged and became one stronger voice and united presence advocating for its business members. One year later, the leadership and staff of OneZone continue to collaborate with their partners to provide the best level of service to their members.

For example, OneZone has three committees that are addressing issues affecting business. The Carmel Business Issues Committee and the Fishers Advocacy Committee deal with items specific to their respective communities. In Carmel, the committee’s agenda included advocating for second-class city status, time limits on public comment to save businesses time and money at council meetings, earlier publication of council agendas, modifications to current zoning ordinances and support of Carmel’s Human Rights Ordinance legislation. In Fishers, the committee is supporting the Hamilton Southeastern Schools referendum and following SR 37 issues.

staffRecently, OneZone organized a new state-level advocacy committee led by board member Mike Drewry. Their goal is to advocate for business-friendly legislation at the Statehouse and against legislation that would negatively affect their members’ businesses.

OneZone will continue to collaborate with other chambers to connect their members with business people throughout Hamilton County and Indianapolis with their network breakfasts and business after hours. They will provide opportunities for building and strengthening members’ business relationships through sponsorship and participation in their golf outings and business expos. They will continue to strengthen their young professionals group by offering social networking opportunities and educational events with topics about millennials in the workplace and leadership development.

New this year, OneZone is pleased to announce their partnership with SCORE, a national organization with a very local presence. SCORE counselors have worked as executives and business owners and provide free, ongoing mentoring to small businesses and start-ups – members will begin to see representatives from SCORE at all of their events and at their offices one day a week.

A collaborative partnership with the Indy Chamber’s BOI – Business Ownership Initiative – group to offer micro-grants will also be announced soon. OneZone is also excited to continue offering their annual scholarship to graduating high school seniors, the children of employees whose companies are Chamber members.

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Mo Merhoff, OneZone President

Meanwhile, there are big changes amidst the workforce that will affect OneZone members. The nature of employment and the composition of the labor pool are undergoing a transformation. OneZone and its partners understand that in order to remain relevant and succeed, companies – and the Hamilton County culture – must focus on the future. They must focus on people strategy, changing demographics, evolving definitions of work, leadership cultivation, employee wants and needs and talent development.

OneZone and the other Hamilton County chambers will be hosting an all-county luncheon on April 19, focusing on building a strategic workforce for the future. The discussion will include how Hamilton County looks to address the needs of workplace and workforce. The guest speaker will be Edward Cone, Deputy Director in the Thought Leadership group at Oxford Economics. Cone will share results of research on Workforce 2020: Building a Strategic Workforce for the Future. Oxford Economics is one of the world’s foremost independent global advisory firms, proving reports, forecasts and analytical tools to industries’ worldwide organizations.

“This particular luncheon is an opportunity to kick off a workforce initiative to help everybody within Hamilton County,” said Mo Merhoff, OneZone president. “This includes job seekers and those seeking employees. There are several cities and regions studying and reacting to these issues. Cities like Louisville and Pittsburgh have developed their programs, ImaginePittsburgh.com and kentuckianaworks.org, as a response to their local workforce and workplace issues.

“The issues are not just affecting the hospitality sector or large corporations. Some of our members have expressed that they are struggling to get tech people. The issues are across the board, and we are hoping to get some feedback from Edward Cone on how ‘smart’ communities are dealing with these issues and how cities and communities like ours are reacting in a positive and productive way. It isn’t just about the companies and employees that are already here, but additionally, about identifying what companies our communities are trying to get to come here and answering how they will be able to staff up once they are. Will they be able to find the people that they need?”

Brenda Myers, President and CEO Visit Hamilton County

One of the organizations contributing to this initiative is Visit Hamilton County. Already a marketing partner with the county’s Chambers of Commerce, city departments and economic development committees, Visit Hamilton County is a centralized source data for and materials created for the purpose of promoting the county’s amenities and assets.

“The issue of workforce attraction and development is a complicated and layered issue,” explained Brenda Myers, president and CEO Visit Hamilton County. “We met with the other participating organizations in March and discussed the topic of workforce and all of the related issues. We all agreed that we needed more data and input, so we went to the Business Intelligence Center of Hamilton County, a shared center of our centralized pool of data, and we crafted a survey that is going out to the area’s human resource directors. We included questions on the subjects of workforce barriers, training and retirement. We are also reaching out to the survey participants to see if
they would be willing to serve on a focus group and join the conversation.”

Myers said that once the results have been received and reviewed, a strategic and general plan would be developed and discussed among the group’s participants.

“Our goal is to release the preliminary findings of this study by April 19,” Myers said. “It’s a topic that we have been discussing, that OneZone has been discussing among other groups. We realized it was time to work together and pool all of our resources.”   

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