Chamber working to promote county as great place to live – Published in the Dec. 5-11 edition of the Johnston County Sentinel

Johnston County Oklahoma Chamber Of Commerce

This week I do not have a Member Spotlight for you but I wanted to share some interesting things that have been going on. As the press release about a partnership between the JCCC and Murray State College read a few months ago, the chamber is now more focused than ever on economic and workforce development. Both entities see the need for focused work to highlight Johnston County as a good place to do business, somewhere that families enjoy living, and a great place to visit as a tourist.

This work also includes representing MSC on the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education’s Economic Development Council, which provides recommendations directly to Chancellor Glen Johnson on new standards for how higher education should operate, support their institution’s communities, and build partnerships with business and industry. Our most recent meeting was held in November after a day-long training on economic and workforce development resource partners in the state. We discussed that Higher Ed needs a unified brand, similar to the situation that the state of Oklahoma is working on with Project Blue Sky. Higher Ed as a whole also needs to show that they work closely with businesses and evolve their programs to prepare students for the needs of workforce now and in the future.

It is indisputable that college degrees are still necessary in our workforce. College expenses are rising – but they are still much cheaper here than many places around the country, and we have one of the best institutions in the state right here in Tishomingo where you’ll get the most ‘bang for your buck’. The Oklahoma Works website lists the 2018-2020 Critical Occupations, which “represent the most pressing needs in each of Oklahoma’s Driver and Complementary Economic Systems necessary for the state’s continued growth and economic prosperity.” Because of the rising costs of an education, it is more important than ever that a student make a wise decision about the degree that they will purse, and they have to be certain that they will have a job when they graduate. Of the 100 listed critical occupations, 17/100 require an Associate’s degree, and 41/100 require a Bachelor’s. I would recommend that parents check out the list with their children to talk about the kinds of careers they can have that will make a big impact in Oklahoma.

Trade certifications are also an important component of our economy and there is certainly money to be made there. Johnston County schools are not a part of a Career Tech consortium because of the high costs associated with inclusion, but our partners at MSC are certainly aware of the need and are working to do what they can to help, and we are on board to assist however we can. Building new programs and relationships takes time, but we’re working to speed up the process as much as possible.

We are also excited to be working with each of the county high schools to put together a county-wide Career Expo. This one-day event held at Murray State will highlight Johnston County business and industry and focuses on ‘Growing Our Own’ workforce. We want to impress upon our juniors and seniors that you can make a good living and have a good job right here at home. I’ll have more details soon and look forward to reaching out and speaking with local business owners about how they can participate.

These are just a few things I wanted to share so that our community can stay informed. As I’ve said before, I don’t believe in hoarding information and I appreciate transparency. I’m happy to answer questions and build relationships anytime! See you at Breakfast with Santa on Saturday!

-Jordyn Frazier, Executive Director, JCCC