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Jennifer Conway, President and CEO of Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce, attained a BA in Business Administration and Accounting in Business/Management as well as a MFA in Public Administration through Syracuse University. She is originally from Texas, and although we do experience quite a drastic difference in weather which means that she can’t necessarily wear flip-flops in April, our small-city vibes and sense of community make Broome County worth it for her.
According to Conway, one of the greatest hurdles to workforce development in Broome County is the lack of skill-set in workforce for positions. It is tough to attract people with experience, which can lead to an especially challenging time with retention of our workers. Conway states that Broome County is fighting a battle for talent nationwide and the key to success is finding the unique piece that will lead people to stay in our area.
Another stumbling block to workforce development is helping people overcome barriers in their life such as disabilities, criminal backgrounds, or transportation; basically, making the unemployable employable. The Chamber’s structure allows advocacy for the workforce and labor groups to elected officials, and the Broome Talent Taskforce brings everyone into conversation.
One of the greatest advantages of Broome County is our community; you can bump into people you know at Wegman’s, but still have the benefit of a larger city. According to Conway, this enables our ability to come up with creative ways to solve challenges that impact everyone’s quality of life. We are building the younger generation’s Broome County, and we are apart of a small enough community where we can tap into the youth’s ideas and collaborate to make Broome more enticing. Currently we are in a moment of growth, as shown by our booming downtown restaurants. There are a lot of good things going on under the surface of our county.
The Chamber’s main role on the Broome Talent Taskforce is connecting business to community. As of right now, there are 825 Chamber representatives and 30,000 Broome County voices. The Chamber also gets involved in regulatory issues such as hands-on intern involvement and the barriers of childcare in our area. Overall, Conway explained that it’s all about finding where the chamber can pitch in and help.
Another role of The Chamber is providing opportunity for building the quality of life in Broome County, with experiences such as the Bridge Run, wine tastings, and The Young Professionals Alliance, which is an organization with a goal to get young professionals connected. The Chamber does this through events such as the Young Professionals Summit, an occasion featuring speakers that the Young Professionals are interested in where they can form connections.
When asked how she defined success, Conway described a possible future in which current businesses will have the people that they need and new ones will form. This will increase our population and number of jobs available with a retention of the 25-34 year old age group, therefore keeping more young people in Broome County.