by Marnie Uhl, Prescott Valley Chamber of Commerce President and CEO
How do we, as a business, ensure that a strong local economy will be perpetuated and sustainable in the future? Where is the future of our business leadership and entrepreneurs? Years ago, the Prescott Valley Chamber identified that in order to have a community with a strong and vibrant business climate investments must be made.
One such investment was made in our education system and schools. The Chamber has been proactive in its support and engagement with our school and college districts; not only in providing services but creating an atmosphere of business collaboration and encouragement. Several programs have been designed to foster that relationship between business and education which has resulted in positive interaction and success.
Each year, our schools welcome new teachers to the classrooms. In most cases they are new to the area, having come from other states or communities. We want them to start off on the right foot so we work with our businesses to make “welcome bags.” These bags are filled with items for the classroom that helps them get started; the basic necessities, paper, pens, clips, tissue, wipes, etc. The bags are then presented at the new teacher orientations at the schools and at the school district. This project has been extremely well received and supported.
Approximately three years ago the Chamber partnered with the Humboldt Unified School District to sponsor a career fair. This career fair features business leaders in a variety of career path industries that present one-on-one to students at the high and middle school level. Students sign up for four of their interested fields and rotate among the different presenters during a half-day workshop session. Here they will find out what exactly they should be looking at studying if interested in a particular career or if they are not sure what they want to do, then here is their opportunity to learn about several opportunities. This program was suggested by a Chamber member Attorney Mark Kille and his involvement has helped with its continued success.
Another program was designed to foster understanding between schools and business and that was the Adopt-a-School program. Businesses “adopted” a school and were there to provide support, assistance, and a connection. Each business and school would determine what that “support” would look like. Some businesses rallied behind teacher/staff support with snacks, goodies and parties; others worked on cleanup and landscaping projects while others supported food drives or purchased much needed equipment. Money was never the driving force for support but rather making the connection that business and education work hand in hand for a stronger community.
In addition, the Chamber provides scholarships for graduating seniors in the Prescott Valley area, its CEO was a founding member of the Humboldt Education Foundation and served as its first President and the Chamber also continues to be proactive in following legislation that would support and enable our schools to operate at optimum levels for our teachers and our children.
The Prescott Valley Chamber is proud of its work with our education system and continues to look at opportunities for increased engagement between the business community, our schools and our kids.