February News Update from David Jerome, President & CEO of the El Paso Chamber

 In News

Dear Friends,

While February has taken a snowier turn than expected, I have been incredibly pleased with your feedback and support of the rollout of our 2021 strategy. Many of you have watched the interview we posted on social media, which breaks down the various pieces of this year’s strategy. I want to talk about the strategy in-depth, every month and I am pleased to use this month’s essay to delve deeper into our business mentoring strategy. As I mentioned in the interview, business mentoring at the Chamber has a vocal advocate in our 2021 Board Chair Arlene Carroll. We pride ourselves on being the premier hub of business connecting, coaching, advocating, and innovating in El Paso and I am very happy about upping the tempo and trajectory of business mentoring in 2021.

Over the course of my professional experiences, mentoring at the organizational level has been important; no business entity, regardless of size or reach can operate in a vacuum.  Certainly, as we have worked with many businesses over the course of the last year, I have come to appreciate the acumen and resilience of member and non-member businesses throughout the community. What we have provided, particularly in relationship to financial support, has come with coaching on a number of fronts. I believe that mentoring in this form is crucial and as our results have borne out, it has significant positive impact on small and medium enterprises in particular.

Business mentoring should do several things; first, mentoring should provide insight and information to the entrepreneurial process. When I consider how businesses operate, particularly at this unique moment, it strikes me that newer business owners and operators may not have dealt with a crisis, much less something of this magnitude. And while few businesspeople have dealt with a pandemic, certainly economic, political, and even social upheaval is not new. Understanding how businesses have dealt with crises in the past is beyond instructive and can go a long way to help reduce the costs for small and medium business.

Second, mentoring should provide aspirational touchpoints and milestones. Through the course of my professional experiences I have seen large, multinational corporations overextend themselves and attempt to stick to goals that have not been stress tested nor thought of in strategic terms. Certainly, watching these large entities learn has been instructive, but it’s a reminder that small and medium enterprises absolutely need guidance and mentoring to set benchmarks that are realistic, but that are simultaneously providing a solid return on investment.

There is a lot to learn in the business environment. I am extraordinarily pleased that our Business Solutions Center is providing insight on our community’s business needs and helping us ensure that we provide the right the right solutions for our local businesses through this crisis.  But I am especially pleased that we have taken the data collected through the SBC and have worked up new strategies that address mentoring gaps we did not plan for initially. I am pleased by this in terms of responsiveness to needs, but I also feel that it’s instructive to our members; our process is predicated on innovating as necessary and underlines the fact that businesses of all sizes need to be flexible and responsive. While I am advocating for the most dynamic and informed mentoring, I want to emphasize that this process is a two-way street and we as a team are learning just as much about business needs in the community as we are offering insight and pairing businesses with our extensive member roster of experts and veteran businesspeople.

I am pleased by our strategy focused on mentoring and I am especially pleased to be partnered with Arlene Carroll in this year’s efforts. We have the opportunity this year, with this part of our strategy, to have a tremendous positive impact for businesses in El Paso and I am cognizant of how we can be a force for growth for minority-owned businesses and businesses that are at the cusp of expanding beyond the region. Our Small Business, Women in Business, Black Leaders, and Pride committees are a constant source of inspiration.  I am enthusiastic at the prospects ahead of us and look forward to sharing more about how we are transforming business and improving lives throughout the El Paso metropolitan region.