Your Chamber at Work - September 27, 2021




At last report, the Kansas City metro area had more than 87,000 job openings and 52,000 people on the unemployed rolls (that doesn’t include those in the workforce who have given up job seeking).

The math is not good. Too many of our Chamber member businesses tell us they’re scrambling to fill their job vacancies, that too many applicants lack the necessary skills, and many are hiring from outside the metro area or using temporary workers.

That’s why workforce development is one of the KC Chamber’s four strategic priorities. In 2018, we created a Workforce Development Steering Committee. Though the COVID-19 pandemic set our efforts back for awhile, we’re continuing to work with business, education, and nonprofits to help solve the shortage.

We know that attracting, retaining, and maintaining an agile, talented and diverse workforce is essential to the sustained growth and vitality of the Kansas City region. Our Workforce Steering Committee is focusing on three overarching actions: to connect, create, and promote.

We’re planning a Workforce Summit for early 2022. We’re providing continued support for the Kauffman Foundation’s Real World Learning initiative, connecting local businesses with students who can acquire market value skills to better prepare them to enter the workforce. Our public policy team is advocating for the elimination of legislative barriers to employment. We plan to increase networking and workforce development events to allow for sharing best practices and collaboration among our member businesses. We’re working to promote and educate people on the real opportunities provided by the skilled trades. And we want to see enhanced collaboration between two-year and four-year institutions of higher education with business to develop a comprehensive understanding of regional degree programs offered and the gaps and industry needs.

And that’s just the tip of the workforce iceberg. We know this is a long-term issue. We also know that the KC Chamber is the one organization that can effectively convene all the necessary stakeholders.

Stay tuned.


The State of Missouri wants to hear from small businesses to better help them. Take a brief survey here from the Department of Economic Development’s Show Me Strong Recovery Task Force to help guide further small business recovery efforts. The Task Force is developing recommendations on ways to support small businesses, including minority-owned and women-owned businesses, now and into the future. The Task Force will then share them with Governor Parson. The survey closes October 1 so take it today.


Come check out Spark KC’s new Downtown location by registering for Neighborhood Networking, Friday, October 1, 8:30 to 10 a.m. at 1475 Walnut. You’ll see what they offer from private offices to shared workspaces and everything in between. This event is free for members and $15 for non-members. Register here. The KC Chamber's 2021 overall networking sponsors are Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, Delta Dental, and Mazuma. The 2021 Neighborhood Networking Sponsors are Menlo and Unbound.


You’ll be inspired when you hear from our 2021 ATHENA Leadership Award and ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award recipients Sherry Turner and Michele L. Watley. They will be honored October 7, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the ATHENA Awards Celebration. Sherry is Executive Director of the Kansas City Women’s Business Center and Michele is the Founder and Owner of The Griot Group LLC. This year’s awards reception is a private event due to COVID restrictions, but it is open to the public via livestream. Register here and you’ll receive the event link before the awards. Thank you to our Presenting Sponsors are Bank Midwest and KPMG.


Join us Friday, October 15, 1 to 3 p.m., to take part in a re-entry simulation to understand the many obstacles faced by men and women leaving incarceration and returning home to their communities. You’ll see what returning citizens face in their first month post-release, including what it’s like to get a job, find housing, and meet the weekly requirements to avoid returning to prison. This event is presented by our WORC initiative (Workplace Opportunities for Returning Citizens), which has a goal of both bolstering our area workforce and helping to reduce crime. It takes place in the KC Chamber Board Room, in the southeast corner of Union Station, 30 W. Pershing Rd. Space is limited so register now.