The Greater Lima Region is a beautiful blending of small and large businesses. Each serves an invaluable role in stimulating our local economy and shaping the essence of our community. As Chair of the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce, I have the privilege to serve on the Greater Lima Region, Inc. (GLR) Board, representing our 960-plus Chamber members.
GLR serves as a regional economic development, work force development and marketing organization dedicated to positioning our region to be known as “open for business” and the most livable community in the Midwest. In collaboration with the public sector, GLR will be laser-focused on addressing these priorities and preparing the Lima region for business and community growth.
I’d like to take a moment to share my perspective on how GLR positively impacts small business growth and development, as well as recognize the key role small businesses play in shaping the essence of our region. Impressively, these businesses with 50 employees or fewer also make up 84 percent of our Chamber membership.
Work force issues
A pressing issue on the minds of many is the region’s work force shortage. By 2024, our region’s employment needs are projected to rise by an estimated 22,000 jobs. Through priorities set forth by GLR, we are working together to attract and develop a qualified regional work force to fill these jobs. Small businesses are not immune to the work force shortage as they generate 64 percent of new jobs in the United States. To address this shortage, GLR has developed a coordinated, multifaceted work force strategy which builds on the foundation of LINK LIMA. Specifically, GLR’s scope includes targeting youth in middle and high school as well as collegiate-age individuals, introducing them to the diverse career opportunities available locally and supporting them as they pursue a career path. This unique approach will compel students to become engaged in our local community, ultimately inspiring them to remain in or return to the region for further education and/or employment.
The GLR mantra is “open for business.” Simply put, GLR advocates for all businesses and is committed to supporting growth and development by removing barriers and streamlining processes. As a result, our region will be recognized as an ideal location for new businesses to locate and existing businesses to expand. Naturally, this business growth leads to new employees, which ultimately brings new families to our region. As the cycle continues, this equates to more clients and opportunities for our small businesses to thrive.
Another key priority of Greater Lima Region is to be recognized nationally as one of the most livable communities in the Midwest. Livable communities bring individuals a higher quality of life and also promote economic growth. People of all ages benefit from having jobs, shopping, health care, recreation and volunteer opportunities closer to home, and communities benefit by becoming more desirable places to live and visit.Through an ecosystem approach to community development, GLR is seeking funding for major community development planning initiatives and pursuing retail development. Our small businesses will be well positioned to take advantage of the new growth and development opportunities.
Additionally, GLR has developed a comprehensive strategic communication and marketing plan for our Greater Lima Region to garner state, national and global attention to attract businesses and families to our region. We are promoting our regional collaboration, world-class companies, strong infrastructure, talented work force and outstanding quality of life. Our marketing and branding efforts are designed to encourage businesses and individuals searching our region to view the Real American opportunities enjoyed here, including dining, shopping, arts, entertainment, parks, recreation and historical places to visit. Our marketing efforts not only showcase our region’s assets but all of the possibilities our region has to offer.
On the move
Our vibrant small business community creates a distinct advantage for the Greater Lima Region, fueling economic innovation and prosperity. While small businesses are job creators, their contributions to the local community extend well beyond job creation to enriching community livability. Building upon the synergies created by our existing business community, small businesses infuse a collaborative spirit into our region. These entrepreneurs tend to buy local and support one another. They are cognizant of how their decisions may impact their neighbors, and they get involved philanthropically in the community. What’s more, their one-of-a-kind and locally-made products attract customers and new businesses to the community. Having multiple small businesses all striving to be unique and innovative results in a healthy marketplace and shapes our community’s identity and character. As our small businesses flourish, the Greater Lima Region prospers, too.
The Greater Lima Region is on the move. Through collaboration among the private and public sectors, as well as small and large businesses, our region is well positioned to be the most livable community in the Midwest and “open for business.” We each have a role in shaping our region. What will your role be? Please visit greaterlimaregion.com to become involved. Find us on Facebook at GreaterLimaRegion or Twitter @GreaterLimaOH to stay informed.
Lynn Carpenter is the executive director of the Lima Memorial Foundation. She also is board chair of Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce and a Greater Lima Region, Inc. board member