Workforce Development

1. Grow involvement with PARTNERS in EDUCATION program.
    Build program awareness.
Encourage involvement in job shadowing and similar opportunities by developing guidelines for members.

2. Provide achievement recognition program.
Continue Honor Student Banquet for graduating seniors.
Re-instate teacher recognition for tech prep faculty at Honor Student Banquet.

3. Continue support of existing workforce development programs.
Education to Careers
Industry Clusters - Metals, Logistics, Information Technology
Workforce Investment Board

4. Develop Chamber workforce development plan with Board committee and facilitate initial focus on service and retail businesses.
Identify needs of retail and service businesses.
Re-activate Retail Council, with focus on local seminars and training opportunities.

5. Raise the bar with employers in regards to employee recruitment, namely through the Finish First program.
Continue growth of FINISH FIRST, transcript check and h.s. diploma/GED mandate for new hires, with EDC.
Research and develop a letter for potential employees who fail their drug tests with local drug counseling referrals.
Increase marketing efforts for these programs with decals, poster and other public areas of acknowledging participation.

Membership Services

1. Develop membership drive plan.
Involve Board members, Ambassadors and select members for "Membership Services Committee."
Develop incentives for membership team members and new Chamber members.
Create a themed, marketing program to facilitate a high-energy drive.
Develop market information and analysis to find new members, while also evaluating current economy.
Include retention plan as part of Committee/Board/Ambassadors work.

2. Communicate more openly with membership, in regards to annual program of work and Chamber activities.
Publish "Program of Work" in the newsletter.
Develop an annual "State of the Chamber" address.
Continually update and promote Chamber website.

3. Develop a membership retention plan.
Incorporate Ambassadors in membership drive team.
Develop a "retention follow-up" call/visit sheet.
Members wanting to cancel investment or are behind in payment will have Board contact prior to membership action.

Legislative Action

1. Identify legislative needs.
Survey membership to identify interested members, hot topics and priorities on the local, state and federal levels.
Make surveys available through various avenues and audiences.

2. Organize a "Legislative Action" council.
Gather interested members.
Use issue priority list to guide activities.
Develop a proper network for contact (i.e., phone, fax, e-mail sources) of council members.
Identify and develop protocol for contacting officials and lawmakers on business issues and votes.

3. Be a source of information and research on political issues and topics.
Build relationship with Illinois and U.S. Chamber for resources and information.
Gather info through other business groups.

Finish first

Education is a top priority to businesses and residents of Vermilion County. The Danville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Danville Area Economic Development Corporation have developed the "FINISH FIRST" program, with the goal of improving high school graduation and attendance rates in the area and encouraging adult residents to become lifelong learners, while continuing to attract high-caliber employers who value high-achieving workers and the positive quality of life that Vermilion County offers.

Employers who agree to "FINISH FIRST" commit to the following:
1. emphasize the importance of a high school diploma/GED to job applicants,
2. hire a new employee only if s/he has a high school diploma/GED, or hire a new employee who doesn't have a diploma/GED, with the understanding that s/he will go through GED classes/testing during the probationary employment period,
3. abide by youth employment laws and truancy ordinances and work with school truancy officials if necessary,
4. request a high school transcript/permanent record of a job applicant, in regards to attendance and disciplinary record,
5. designate a company employee as your "Finish First" contact and pay an annual marketing/administration fee.

"FINISH FIRST" is designed after a similar program in St. Joseph, Missouri. It had a 26-percent dropout rate in 1990. Nineteen businesses initially signed-on to their educational-requirement hiring program. By 1999, the coalition of involved businesses grew to more than 170, and the dropout rate fell to 11-percent. During that time, leaders also witnessed a 700-percent increase in their GED preparation classes.

We aspire to achieve similar results in Vermilion County. With corporate support from Illinois Power in the form of a "Bright Ideas" grant, the Chamber and EDC kicked off the program in the fall of 1999. We salute area businesses that are part of our initial group to FINISH FIRST!


    Dr. Randy Ashton DDS
Automation International
    Boys & Girls Club of Danville
Bunge Lauhoff Grain Co.
CCL Custom Manufacturing
CRIS Senior Services
Cellular One
Central States Distribution
Chem-Cast Ltd.
Consumers Illinois Water
Country Companies Insurance
Courtesy Ford-Lincoln-Mercury
Danville Area Chamber of Commerce
Danville Area Community College
Danville Area EDC
Danville District 118 Schools
Danville Eye Clinic
Danville Housing Authority
Danville Polyclinic
Danville Sanitary District
Dines Machine
Financial Institutions for a Better Community

    First National Bank of Danville
First Midwest Bank
First Savings Bank
Fleming Commercial Realty
Heartland Insurance
IHF/Creative Products
Illinois Power
Industrial Supply Co.
Lakeview College of Nursing
Leatherneck Hardware
Marble Machine
McLane Midwest
Mervis Industries
Old National Bank
Professional Realty
Robert Randall Realtors
Tridan International
Walgreen's Accounting
Woodbury's Office City
Leadership tomorrow

The Danville Area Chamber's been involved in developing community-minded business leaders since its inception. In 1986, the Chamber conducted its first "Leadership Danville" program. After fourteen years, the program received a facelift and "Leadership Tomorrow" was born. Although new in scope and length of time, the program still meets its original mission that community leaders created nearly two decades ago: to provide the commun-ity with a continuing resource of men and women who are capable of directing and shaping the future of the community so that it may achieve its potential.

The founders of the leadership program also very clearly set out some well-defined objectives:

To develop quality leadership talents which lead to creative problem solving and future planning by the participants,

To develop in the participant an awareness of the community, its problems, challenges and opportunities, through an educational process,

To assist participants in assuming leadership roles in the community,

To develop and ensure the continuation of a network of community leaders.

"Leadership Tomorrow" also holds true to these objectives. The program opens with a two-day retreat, which stresses team-building and community service. While a servant leadership theme is present throughout the fast-tracked program, local community topics are also stressed. These include: education, business development, technology, history, agriculture, social concerns, government, criminal justice and diversity. The knowledge-based programs are paired with leadership and management training. Topics such as conflict resolution, consensus building, stress management and vision building are among the areas covered.

Class members also make a commitment to the community. They are expected to complete "Leadership Building Activities" during the program. Examples include: attending a city council or county board meeting, shadowing an educator, riding along with a police officer, mentoring a student, or volunteering at a shelter. This is to expose class members - young and old, new and lifetime residents - to the various aspects and needs of the region that cannot be easily covered during a day program.

The class is also responsible for a well-defined and contained class project. Class XV members (fall 2000) dedicated themselves to working on a Habitat for Humanity house. The accelerated program closes with a traditional graduation ceremony.

The Chamber's community leadership program is governed by a diverse steering committee composed of community leaders and leadership alumni. It meets regularly to evaluate the program and discuss fundraising goals as well as outside alumni activities.

A new class generally starts in August of each year. Class applications are available in the spring, with selection interviews taking place early summer and the class announcement made by July.

The Danville Area Chamber's Leadership Tomorrow Program: Growing FOR the community, Growing WITH the community in mind.


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