The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Hiring Our Heroes, in collaboration with USAA and the Greater Tampa and South Tampa Chambers of Commerce, today announced Tampa as the nation’s newest Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone (MSEEZ). A collaborative effort among the local business, civic, and military communities to address the economic impact of military spouse unemployment and underemployment on 21st century military families, MSEEZ establish geographically-focused employment networks to connect military spouses to local career opportunities.
“Military spouses in the Tampa area and around the country represent a highly educated and skilled pool of candidates who, despite their skills, continue to face significant rates of unemployment and underemployment,” said Eric Eversole, president of Hiring Our Heroes and vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Hiring Our Heroes, USAA, and the Greater Tampa and South Tampa Chambers are proud to launch the second Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone in Tampa, a city ready to continue its efforts to maximize the value of its military community talent.”
The launch of the Tampa MSEEZ comes on the heels of the designation of both the Greater Tampa and South Tampa Chambers as three-star Chambers of Valor. The three-star Chamber of Valor award is Hiring Our Heroes’ highest honor for local and state chambers; it recognizes their demonstrated leadership in connecting companies with talented veteran and military spouse candidates.
“Tampa has long been home to not only America’s active duty and their spouses but also veterans and their families,” said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “It is truly an honor for the community to be recognized as one of the nation’s newest Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zones. The gift of employment is something no military spouse should have to stress about and this designation will help lift that burden."
The MSEEZ program grew from the findings of a recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation study, Military Spouses in the Workplace, in which an overwhelming majority of employed military spouses said that having dual incomes was vitally important to their family, but only 50 percent of military families polled reported having dual-income status. This disparity places an added strain on military families and can ultimately factor into a service member’s decision to stay in or leave the military—factors that can hurt overall military readiness and retention.
“The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce recognizes the employment challenges military spouses face while their spouse serves our country,” said Bob Rohrlack, president and CEO of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. “We remain committed to connecting our business community with veterans and military spouses in an effort to support these families throughout their entire military career life cycle.”
“We are incredibly proud for the City of Tampa to be named a Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone,” said Kelly Flannery, president and CEO of the South Tampa Chamber of Commerce. “We have an underutilized, educated, and highly skilled pool of talent right here in our own backyard. We look forward to working with the US Chamber and our local partners to bridge the gap between our military families and the business community.”
Hiring Our Heroes will launch MSEEZ throughout 2018 in cities across America. Building on a robust network of national and local employers, educational institutions, and community resources, these MSEEZ 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, ultimately strengthening the financial security of our 21st century military families.