Advocate. Network. Employ.
Those are among the Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce's priorities.
Maureen Scallen Failor, the organization's new president, said she will work to ensure that local businesses are assets in communities and in the state, providing jobs and contributing to the tax base.
"We can be the voice for business and advocating for business at the local, county and state level because all business do not have time or financial resources to hire lobbyists, take time to go to the capital and monitor public policy," Failor said. "We represent businesses so they can work and operate in friendly business environment."
A Minnesota native, Failor has 26 years of experience running a small business and working in the nonprofit community. She was as past president for the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce for nine years where she makes a home today.
"Historically, chambers have been good at providing networking opportunities and events because this allows some chamber members and businesses to come together and meet colleagues in same industry sector, and to start building relationships that down the road will provide connections," Failor said.
The chamber also can offer intangibles to small-business owners and prospective businesses. The chamber advocates for initiatives that promote workforce development, transit, while seeking educational partners that develop new ways and opportunity to pathways, Failor said.
Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce touts a 500-member base that represents the voices of small, medium and larger businesses within the county.
Thrive and grow
Failor said the chamber works to continually provide value and benefits to businesses in and around the surrounding area. The cities of Rosemount and Farmington, for example, are growing and thriving. They welcome residential and commercial growth. The infrastructure is there.
"Farmington and Rosemount are two great cities with local flavor, and each one has its own uniqueness and each city is special," she said. "We are looking forward to elevating that and making sure those cities can be successful and prosperous."
Equally important is retaining businesses. Bricks and mortar storefront shops on Main Street need support from local residents in the community, she added. Residents need to understand they must take time to shop local.
"Because these are the employers that provide jobs, pay taxes and are an important fabric to any city and community, and it is really the obligation of everyone who lives in the community to shop local," she said.
Some challenges the chamber faces today relate to working on public policy at the state level and national level where there is political division in the Legislature and Congress.
"It has to deal with the politics currently taking place in the state that is becoming more divisive, and we have more challenging and more important things to be done," Failor said.
"That is a challenge for our chambers who are dealing as outsiders looking in and are trying to get our state Legislature to put party politics aside, and do what is in the best interest of the business community and residents of Minnesota," Failor said.
Looking to build partnerships with local educational institutions like local school districts, community colleges and state and university systems, Failor said "We need to work with the institutional partners to develop and fill up the pipeline for future workforce."
Failor said, "I think, overall, there is a lot of exciting things happening in Dakota County and in the communities we represent and the economy is strong and we are seeing a lot new development both commercial and residential, so I am excited to be a part of this wonderful county and I love the communities we represent."