Often the best new ideas come when they are needed most. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shelter in place regulations, nearly every business has had to change how they offer their services to customers, clients, and partners. New norms require creative thinking and a willingness to step outside of our comfort zones. Here at the Chamber, we’ve introduced a variety of new programming to address all aspects of the pandemic and its effect on our local business community. Our digital offerings to members continue to expand and that includes our outreach to young professionals through our Access Tallahassee program.
Access Tallahassee exists for young professionals to learn about our community through participation in the Chamber of Commerce. With a growing membership and over a decade of successfully nurturing careers, Access has become an essential part of our community-wide talent retention efforts. Even with social distancing protocols in place, it remains an important part of our work. During the pandemic, Access has been a great source for the next generation of Tallahassee business leaders to stay informed and connected. Much of that has been happening through our digital platforms.
One of the most interesting new outlets that our team has produced in recent weeks has been a weekly online morning show called “First Cup.” Hosted by our very own Katie Harwood, First Cup is part of our expanded Access Tallahassee programming. Each Friday at 8:30 am Katie is joined by an up-and-coming community leader for a live discussion about their career, why they love our Tallahassee, and how they are adapting through the challenges of this moment. The First Cup show has been a hit with our Access members as well as others who have been attending virtually.
First Cup is a great example of how the Chamber has pivoted to create more digital business content while we all are working through the challenges of COVID-19. When Katie came up with the idea for a coffee and conversation type show, there were some logistical hurdles to conquer, but what our team has proven is that anything is possible when we all brainstorm on solutions. Chamber members can expect to see more of this creative programming in the weeks and months to come. If you are interested in catching this week’s First Cup featuring Lindsey Magura, Vice President of Development for North American Properties be sure to register so you can join the show and learn more about their Cascades Park mixed-use development.
Digital gatherings also allow us the flexibility to bring in expert speakers from outside our market. Just this week, Katie has secured a tremendous speaker for our next Access Power Lunch. On May 21, Access members and other guests can participate in a virtual event featuring Kacie Lett Gordon, Senior Vice President for Strategy at Three Five Two – an Atlanta based innovation and growth firm. She will be speaking about how companies and individuals can find their next big idea and how to seize the opportunities of our times. Be sure to bookmark this event for yourself or any young professionals on your team.
In addition to virtual events and other gatherings, our Access Program has been a great place to grow other user-generated content including member blogs. This week, Hannah Crow, Community Relations Specialist for First Florida Credit Union and member of the Access Advisory Council, submitted a piece for AccessTallahassee.com featuring a list of podcasts and books she’s been reading to help reset for the restarting of our economy. If you or a young professional at your company would like to submit a blog, please feel free to reach out to Katie with your ideas. She’d also be happy to help you or someone you know become an Access member.
Even though the world has hit the pause button on our normal way of life, we still have a strong desire to connect with each other. In this time, a new existence for business is emerging. Technology and convenience are driving new innovative thinking and the time to evolve is now. Our Chamber team has tried to create an internal environment where that sort of thinking can flourish. We believe that is working quite well and what Katie Harwood is doing for our Access Program is evidence of that. When one team member helps to deliver a few wins for our organization, it motivates us all to excel in how we drive value to our members. We are motivated by this mantra – adapting as we go.
Vice President, Advocacy & Public Policy