U.S. Chamber Foundation Launches Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone in Leavenworth, Kansas

March 20, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. —The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes, the city of Leavenworth and the Leavenworth-Lansing area Chamber of Commerce announced the launch of a Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone (MSEEZ) in the Leavenworth area 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 Leavenworth-Lansing 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 Leavenworth-Lansing area community. 

“The City is always looking for new ways to empower and support our military families at Fort Leavenworth. The MSEEZ is a great way to show Fort Leavenworth and the Army community that we value you and we want you here. Having military spouses work in Leavenworth is an asset to our businesses and a great way for our residents to interact with these talented people.” Jermaine Wilson, mayor of the City of Leavenworth. 

The community surrounding the Fort Leavenworth military installation includes not only Lansing and the surrounding Leavenworth County communities, but also the Kansas City metropolitan area. This extension provides for additional growth and support opportunities for spouse employment throughout the area. 

“The City of Lansing is greatly supportive of the US Chamber of Commerce’s efforts to increase the hiring and employment of military spouses.  Increasing the employment of military spouses improves our local economy, and helps to alleviate the financial strain on military families.  Military spouses are honest and reliable employees, who know what it means to serve, and they can greatly benefit the organizations for whom they are employed.” City Administrator, Tim Vandall, City of Lansing.

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.  

“The Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce is thrilled, on behalf of the communities of Leavenworth, Lansing, and Fort Leavenworth, to be designated a Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone. Throughout our nearly 103 years of serving this community, the Chamber of Commerce has always sought ways to build strong, lasting relationships between the military, whether active, retired, or former, military spouses, and the business community.  We are as committed as ever to that relationship, which is why we are so excited about the MSEEZ Designation.  Military spouses are unemployed, or underemployed, at epidemic levels; it is incumbent upon military communities like ours to work to provide as many employment, training, and entrepreneurial opportunities as possible for military spouses.” Brandon Johannas, president and CEO of the Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce. 

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.  

Johannas went on to say, “Fort Leavenworth is the oldest active military post west of the Hudson River, exceeded in age only by West Point; ours is an aged, cherished relationship, and because our joint mission continues, our futures are as inextricably linked as our past.  The Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce is honored to be a part of this most noble endeavor, and is happy to reinforce its commitment to military spouses.”

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.