U.S. Chamber Foundation Launches Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone in North Carolina

April 17, 2019

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Secretary of the Department of Veteran and Military Affairs, Larry Hall
Secretary of the Department of Veteran and Military Affairs, Larry Hall, addresses the newly formed working group of the North Carolina Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone.
© Julie Morgan

WASHINGTON, D.C. —The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes and the State of North Carolina announced the launch of a Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone (MSEEZ) in North Carolina.

“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 state of North Carolina into a growing network 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 communities around the country — now including the state of North Carolina.

“More than 800,000 active duty military service members, veterans and their families call North Carolina home, and we value their service to our nation and the sacrifices they have endured.  The Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone campaign is exactly the kind of innovative, proactive campaign that can bring these families together with other community leaders and stakeholders to improve the lives of all North Carolinians.  The North Carolina Department of Military and Veteran Affairs is happy to be a partner in this effort.” Secretary of the Department of Military and Veteran Affairs, Larry Hall.

The state of North Carolina is home to eight military installations including one of the nation’s largest and busiest installations - Fort Bragg. The veteran, active duty, guard and reserve population in North Carolina impacts dozens of communities across the state. 

"The North Carolina National Guard's Employment Center is honored to partner with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Hiring Our Heroes to provide support for our military families through the Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone. We look forward to working together to target the military spouse employment issues within North Carolina. We understand the sacrifices these military spouses have made to support their service member, and we pledge to support getting them to the opportunities they truly deserve." Eric Burgos, Employment Director at the North Carolina National Guard.

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 North Carolina Chamber is proud to partner with the U.S. Chamber and Hiring Our Heroes to support military families through the new Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone,” said Gary Salamido, Chief Operating Officer and Acting President of the North Carolina Chamber. “At a time when North Carolina businesses are facing a critical skilled labor shortage, we should take every opportunity to bring qualified, talented workers into the workforce. This partnership will open doors for military spouses and families, helping them find meaningful, good-paying jobs in the North Carolina communities they call home.” 

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. 

“Military spouse unemployment and under employment continue to be a challenge and economic drain for Military Families.  Military spouses stand side by side with their military member while serving our country. As such, they have earned the right to ’sit at the table’ of employment opportunities and reap the various rewards employment brings to the individual, their families, and the greater community.”  Mrs. Bonnie Amos, former first lady of the U.S. Marine Corps and Toyota and Hiring Our Heroes personal brand ambassador. “Thank you, North Carolina, for coming together to work on finding sustaining solutions to military spouse employment and under employment challenges and for your continued partnership and support.”

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.