Chamber of the Year — St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce
Each year, the Missouri Chamber selects a local chamber of commerce that sets the standard in economic development, advocacy, and innovation. The St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce was selected from more than 200 local chambers that serve communities all across the state.
“The St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce raises the bar for chambers all across Missouri and beyond,” says Dan Mehan, Missouri Chamber president and CEO. “Their continuous support and promotion of their members, local business, and community exemplify the actions of what a chamber of commerce should be doing.”
Founded more than 150 years ago, the St. Joseph Chamber is a pillar in the community and has exploded in growth in the past few years. They recently surpassed the 1,200 member mark because of a new program they have developed. The chamber had 850 members ten years ago. It has signed up 300 members just in the past year. The program seeks to identify new member expectations and then match those with programs and events to get the members engaged with the chamber.
The St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce was one of the first members of the Missouri Chamber Federation, a collaborative group of the state’s most influential chambers of commerce working together on statewide initiatives.
“We are grateful for the leadership and time the St. Joseph Chamber lends to this initiative,” Mehan says. “We are fortunate to be able to leverage St. Joseph’s success and apply best practices from such strong communities for the betterment of the rest of the state.”
“We have the best staff, and they have grown the membership,” says St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce President Patt Lilly. “The chamber brings value to the community and to the members because of the staff.”
One issue the chamber has chosen to address is the lack of an available workforce in manufacturing jobs in the area. St. Joseph is unique in that, for a city of its size, it does not have a community college to train workers in these jobs. The chamber partnered with several manufacturers and Missouri Western State University, the St. Joseph school district, and the local technical education school to create the St. Joseph Workforce Development Alliance, which has implemented a manufacturing certificate program called MT1.
“We have been working to create a manufacturing curriculum that could be taught at high school level through the local tech school in partnership with Missouri Western State University and believe the MT1 certification is a good start,” Lilly says.
Any student who completes the program receives a certificate in manufacturing which is recognized by local companies. The program began this fall and the chamber estimates nearly 200 students will benefit from the program annually.
“Striving to improve St. Joseph by creating the St. Joseph Workforce Development Alliance, promoting job growth by developing programs in economic development by supporting existing business, business attraction, business creation, and workforce development are all reasons why they are named Chamber of the Year,” says Mehan.. “The St. Joseph community should be proud of their chamber team, led by Patt Lilly, for their outstanding accomplishments and many successes.”