I can see just fine — why do I need vision? | Chamber CEO Rebecca Martin

As business-led, economic and civic organizations, chambers of commerce and their members are impacted by the world’s accelerating change of pace. The American Chamber of Commerce Executives has identified influences shaping the next decade, and the business leaders at the Federal Way Chamber have taken note.

On the horizon is a shifting population, infrastructure demands, existing and emerging workforce needs, political and social fragmentation, as well as a global marketplace. Like chambers of commerce all over the world, we know our role in the community is to provide the leadership that retains, expands and attracts business.

As we take a strategic look to the future, we must ask ourselves if we are prepared for what lies ahead. How will business in the Federal Way area evolve over the next decade? Where do we include the chamber as the voice of business in economic development efforts? How do we ensure that the best days for the South Puget Sound economy are yet to come?

The chamber looks to address those questions with our Vision 2025 initiative — a business-led, economic-focused, private sector project designed to gather input, articulate ideas,and make bold assumptions. This is what a chamber of commerce does. Chambers influence business growth, especially when there is a broader, inclusive and data-driven view of economic development.

Vision 2025 aligns with principles set out in Amy Lui’s “Remaking Economic Development.” We know we need to expand the scope and metrics of economic development to reflect a more regionally connected understanding when expanding business opportunity.

To grow from within, economic development must prioritize building strong business clusters for core industries. In setting a vision for the next decade, it is critical to create a business climate that grows and supports not only small businesses, but also those competing in the global marketplace.

People produce value. Vision 2025 will look at the talent pipeline in the South Sound. The flexibility to educate a skilled workforce is a foundational strategy for economic growth. Business can support a skill-development system by working with educators to design programs for clearly defined job descriptions.

Any vision discussion demands that we embrace catalytic leadership. Do we have a strong bench for business and community leadership? How can we mentor a leadership focused on the greater good? Can we let go of “how things have always been done” to consider new and different viewpoints?

We should explore how to facilitate export growth and trade with other markets — in the U.S. and abroad — working with companies in our regional corridor to expand supply chain opportunities. Looking to the horizon means finding ways “to deepen regional industry specializations, bringing new income and new investment” to the area.

For 64 years, the Greater Federal Way Chamber has provided the leadership that put this community on the map. It was the chamber that led the charge to create this city 27 years ago. It was the chamber that brought this community its hospital. And it is the chamber that unifies the prosperity of our city through job creation. It is this vision, this clear understanding of collaboration, that has made it possible for us all to live and work here.

Business creates business — this is the chamber’s legacy in the South Sound. Vision 2025 will build on that legacy as it convenes stakeholders to shape a possible future for our regional business community. Working together, we continue to embrace the spirit of collaboration and innovation that is the foundation of not just our economy, but also our city — our home.

Rebecca Martin is the Greater Federal Way Chamber of Commerce CEO and president.

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