U.S. Chamber Foundation Launches Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone in El Paso
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes, the city of El Paso, the El Paso Chamber of Commerce, and Fort Bliss leadership announced the launch of a Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone (MSEEZ) in the El Paso community.
“When communities come together to recognize the talent and potential military spouses bring to the table, we collectively take another step in the right direction to combat military spouse unemployment and underemployment,” said Eric Eversole, president of Hiring Our Heroes and vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Hiring Our Heroes has a strong history of creating meaningful employment connections for thousands of military spouses in communities around the world. We are proud to welcome the El Paso community into a growing network of communities working to provide local solutions to barriers to entry for military spouse employment.”
Established to connect military spouses with companies committed to hiring, MSEEZs are collaborative efforts among business, civic and military communities to build employment networks in municipalities around the country — now including the El Paso community.
“The City of El Paso is honored to be named the nation’s newest Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone,” said Mayor Dee Margo. “This designation reinforces our continued effort of providing quality services to our veterans, our active military, and their families with career opportunities and valued services to improve their quality of life.”
“The El Paso Chamber is pleased to partner with the Hiring Our Heroes initiative, through the US Chamber of Commerce, in order to cultivate meaningful employment opportunities for service members, military spouses and veterans in the greater El Paso region. As the premier hub for connecting, coaching, advocating and innovating, the El Paso Chamber is proud of its work with the Army and Department of Defense not only to maintain Fort Bliss’ rich presence in our community but to insure that it is a post of choice in the Army. There is no better way to support our warrior men and women and their families than to insure economic opportunities for all through job creation and connections, said David Jerome, president of the El Paso Area Chamber of Commerce. “The Chamber has supported endeavors not only to connect Fort Bliss personnel to the services and support systems of El Paso, but to foster an environment where spouses and veterans can find employment and their own connections to the El Paso economy. Our efforts and those of the US Chamber of Commerce are valuable not only to those in the military and their families but they are invaluable to add to the El Paso economy as well.”
The MSEEZ program grew from the findings of a recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation study, Military Spouses in the Workplace, which found that an overwhelming majority of employed military spouses thought having two incomes was vitally important to their families. However, the study said, only 50% of military families reported having dual-income status. This disparity reflects added strain on military families and can ultimately factor into a service member’s decision to stay in — or leave — the military. Such decisions, in turn, can affect overall military readiness and retention.
“I am honored to participate in the launch of the Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zones initiative. The initiative leverages a vast network of connections to address military spouse workforce issues at a local level. In many military households, spouse employment is essential to family readiness, and family readiness is vital to Soldier readiness. The Fort Bliss Community truly appreciates the U.S. Chamber for their efforts in making military spouses a priority."
Military spouses represent an untapped segment of the workforce of the future. They provide employers with a rich talent pool of diverse and versatile candidates with an exceptional level of grit.
“Prudential is excited to partner with HOH, the City of El Paso, FT Bliss and the local business community to support employment opportunities for military spouses,” said James Beamesderfer, vice president, Veterans Initiatives at Prudential Financial. “Military moves significantly impact spouse employment opportunities and thus the financial wellbeing of the military family. We are proud to do our part to help ease employment challenges by offering meaningful career opportunities here in the Greater El Paso TX area and nationwide. We continue to build out our military spouse employment program to offer portable careers and we are very willing to share our framework with other organizations.”
Hiring Our Heroes will launch MSEEZs throughout 2019 in communities across America. Building on a robust network of national and local employers, educational institutions and community resources, these MSEEZs will foster collaboration between key stakeholders to help identify best practices that will support and advance the mission of connecting military spouses with meaningful employment opportunities — and ultimately strengthen the financial security of our 21st century military families.