McComack: Workforce development efforts ramp up in River Region

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Workforce Development summit was held Dec. 7 at the South Central La. Technical College-Reserve Campus.

This session was facilitated by Dr. Bruce Waguespack with River Parishes Community College. There were approximately 65 businesses in attendance, along with a local government and public school representatives.

Representatives from U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy’s office and U.S. Rep. Garrett Graves’ office were also in participation with this effort.

This happening stems from the Chamber’s Workforce Development Committee to help put the powers that be (businesses doing the hiring in our region) and the resources (local public schools, community and technical colleges) in a room together to help answer a few key questions.

Attendees were broken into multiple groups: Contractors/Suppliers, Education, Hospitality, Health care, Industry and Business Services.

After three plus hours of strategic thinking and idea brainstorming, the walls of the media room at SCLTC were full of key words such as ETHICS, CHARACTER, ACCOUNTABILITY, PERSONAL VALUES and SKILLS.

These words came from what each group’s priorities are believed to be what needs addressing to help improve the current workforce to ensure more local hiring gets done and to help change the mindset that college is for everyone, when in reality it’s not!

We walked away with a lot of info and now need to put it in template format to help set a plan to communicate these needs to the schools, parents, students and community across the board.

Stay tuned for more details as we do so.

This will not just be a chamber project. The Chamber’s role is to be the catalyst for change and improvement.

This summit is a direct reflection of such. Businesses that aren’t yet members of the Chamber can still participate. This is about business and workforce as a whole. Our region is prime for prosperity.

Everyone needs to be aware of the opportunity at hand. Talk to the youth that feel they won’t be much in life because they feel their not smart enough for college. They have more opportunity than those that are on the college pathway.

Encourage them to visit with Dr. Bruce at River Parishes Community College or Ms. Penny at the Reserve technical college.

Let them know we are here to help. None of us gets where we are without the help of others. We are obligated to these young people to show that we care and help them learn about these options that are available, regardless of an ACT score.

We look forward to growing with you in 2017. The Chamber door is always open and ready to welcome new businesses as members.

If you’re a current member and want to learn more about becoming an annual investor to help make sure your business name and logo are seen and heard at Chamber events throughout the year, contact me or Janine at the Chamber to find out how. Also, don’t forget to use the new member app. This is an added new benefit to help keep you connected with the who and what’s going on with your Chamber.

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Again, sincerest thanks to you for your steadfast support and continued interest to help improve our region!

• The River Region Chamber Board of Directors had a great retreat session Dec. 2.

I look forward to being able to share more details on the Chamber’s work for 2017 in an upcoming column.

Chassity McComack is executive director of the River Region Chamber of Commerce. Email her at or log onto