As I begin my first column, I want to express my thanks to the ACCE Board and membership for the opportunity to serve as your 2012-2013 Chairman. Iíd also like to thank everyone who attended the convention in Louisville. It was an outstanding conference, made all the better by the incredible hospitality of Greater Louisville Inc. For those who did not attend, you will not want to miss next yearís conference, as I can promise you will find that same hospitality and substance in Oklahoma City!
One of the most interesting and inspirational aspects of this yearís conference was hearing about so many chambers that are leading education reform efforts in their communities. Preparing our students has never been more important. The ability of our member companies to be successful in the future hinges on finding and retaining a quality workforce. Without talented and dedicated employees, our businesses cannot succeed and our cities cannot thrive.
A more immediate source of tomorrowís talent can be found in our nationís colleges and universities. Today, college graduates can pursue jobs all over the country and around the world. By offering or promoting quality internship programs, we can give these talented and results-oriented future workers the opportunity to experience the workplace, while helping them learn about their future careers and the city where they will live and work after graduation.
Iíve seen how an internship program can impact a business community. In Greater Oklahoma City, our summer internship program recently completed its seventh year of operation, and weíre proud of the results weíve achieved. Participation by local companies has increased, and most importantly, retention rates of local graduates increase each year. In fact, a recent survey by Thumbtack.com noted a steady increase in the percentage of college students staying in Oklahoma City over the past decade, with 81 percent of those earning bachelorís degrees remaining in our region after graduation.
We are all passionate about our cities and communities. We would not be able to do the work we do if we were not. But itís essential that we ensure that our efforts include the individuals who will one day make up our business communities and lead our economies. Support the internships and intern programs taking place in your community. If your community lacks one, create one.
Someday, when you hand over the reins to the next generation, Iím certain you wonít regret it.
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