When I was in government and in the private sector, I always took time at the end of each year to reflect on the accomplishments of the state government or the company I was running. More often than not, I found myself surprised at our ability to overcome challenges and move forward.
When I recently looked over the accomplishments of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation in 2014, I was not surprised. I know how hard our team has worked, and it paid off with a great array of research reports and events, all focused on strengthening America’s competitiveness.
The Foundation’s initiatives in 2014 focused on improving America’s competitiveness and expanding the nation’s economic growth. We know that growth over the last few years has been slower than the historical norm, which is why the Foundation published The Growth Imperative, a research paper that warns of the consequences of continued slow economic growth in America.
The need for more growth has served as a main driver of what we do at the Foundation, and this has been supported by initiatives all across the Foundation.
The Foundation’s Center for Education and Workforce made great strides in telling the public about the need to close the skills gap in America. The Foundation was proud to host Vice President Joe Biden and the Urban Alliance for an event to discuss youth employment, and we followed up with the release of a white paper in November on Talent Pipeline Management.
The education team was active all year in its support of Common Core State Standards, and also published an updated Leaders & Laggards report, offering state-by-state grades on the effectiveness of K-12 education systems. The report received widespread media attention, and I expect it will motivate many states to boost their efforts to offer a quality education for all young people.
The Corporate Citizenship Center (CCC) was busy in 2014 researching a wide range of issues including the global empowerment of women, the intersection of water use and energy, and the role of the private sector in the developing world. The CCC also highlighted the work of companies aiding in disaster relief, especially the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The group’s three-day Corporate Citizenship Conference in September was one of the most well attended events of the year at the Chamber.
One of the Foundation’s more dynamic initiatives of 2014 came from our Data-Driven Innovation project, which delved into the many ways that data are being used to improve society and the economy. The project featured an all-day summit in October, coupled with a research paper. In addition, data-driven innovation was the topic of the latest issue of the Foundation’s flagship publication, Business Horizon Quarterly.
The Foundation’s Center for Women in Business hosted a number of events focused on the need to get more women on corporate boards and in the C-suite. The center’s research report, Women-Owned Business: Carving a New Business Landscape, offered great insights into the changing face of entrepreneurship in America.
Hiring Our Heroes hit several milestones in its effort to find work for thousands of veterans and military spouses, and we are appreciative of the many companies that took part in the scores of hiring fairs held throughout the country and even overseas in 2014.
Other initiatives this year focused on the impact of regulations on business as well as the need to protect businesses’ free speech. The Foundation also continued its support of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!), and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the launch of our new website, which has enabled us to publicize our initiatives to an ever-growing audience.
Based on our accomplishments in 2014, I could not be more excited about the coming year. I hope you’ll continue to stay engaged in the Foundation’s activities.
Happy New Year!