U.S. Chamber Foundation Launches Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone in San Diego

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

“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 is proud to welcome the city of San Diego 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 San Diego region.

“The San Diego Regional Chamber recognizes that military spouses face unique challenges in securing employment while their partners are serving our country,” said Jerry Sanders, president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber. “This is why we proudly partner with Hiring Our Heroes and remain dedicated to creating opportunities for our regional business community to tap into this talented, committed and valuable workforce and help our region’s military spouses find a meaningful career. It’s a winning formula for our business community, regional economy and, most of all, the thousands of military families that call San Diego home.”

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 East County Economic Development Council (EDC) is proud to partner with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Hiring Our Heroes as we are acutely aware of the challenges that military spouses face when it comes to employment opportunities and transitions,” said Jo Marie Diamond, president and CEO of East Country EDC. “Whether it be a permanent change of station with their service member or holding down the home front while their service member is away, our hope is that by collaborating with Hiring Our Heroes we can help ease those employment challenges by providing meaningful opportunities for spouses,” Ms. Diamond said. “East County employers — in fact, employers across the San Diego region — would be thrilled to have access to the potential skilled and committed workforce that military spouses represent. To that end, East County EDC is creating programs that provide resources so military spouses can obtain in-demand and transferable skills. Everyone benefits if our military spouses can find employment in our communities,” Ms. Diamond added.

Hiring Our Heroes will launch MSEEZs throughout 2018 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.