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I was privileged to be part of a team of Chamber staff and board members that took a day trip to Indianapolis to meet with representatives of the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce. Our trip included Chamber Board President Wendy Hamilton of TechSmith and was organized by board member and former Indianapolis Chamber board member David Lewis of AT&T Michigan. It is always useful to learn about best practices of other successful organizations, which generates terrific ideas that could be applied locally, and this trip was no exception.

Of particular interest to all of us on the trip was the opportunity to learn how the Indianapolis Chamber is leading efforts to coordinate and align multiple regional talent initiatives. Indianapolis has been effective at identifying resources, pulling key players together and creating a regional vision for attracting and retaining talent.

The emphasis on talent has grown on several fronts in the Lansing region over the past several years. While we should all be pleased with the quality of the talent programming that has developed, our trip to Indianapolis underscored the importance of pulling key influencers in the region together to ensure talent initiatives are aligned for maximum impact.

The Indy trip was particularly relevant to a pair of talent initiatives the Chamber has led in recent years. In early October, we launched the fifth cohort of Leadership Lansing, a program that is helping develop and equip the next generation of community leaders. In fact, 155 outstanding leaders from across the region completed Leadership Lansing during its first four years.

We are equally proud of the 10 Over the Next Ten program, presented in partnership with Grand River Connection, now in its 13th year, recognizing the top young professionals in the region. Congratulations to this year’s honorees: Dr. Farhan Bhatti, Priscilla Bordayo, Kara Christy, Joel R. Conn, Aylysh Gallagher, Amy Jackson (Harris), Dan Opsommer, Lindsay Peters, Andrew (Andy) Wirostek and Mary ZumBrunnen.

Among other important regional initiatives the Chamber supports is Lansing 5:01 which has been highly successful in linking college interns to all the Lansing region has to offer. Capital Area Michigan Works! is leading MICareerQuest Capital Area, the region’s largest interactive career exploration event for high school students, while the Lansing Promise provides scholarships and higher education opportunities for our region’s talent pool of tomorrow.

We have the assets and the talent programs to support talent attraction and retention efforts in the region. Looking at the Indianapolis example, a logical next step for our region should be to identify possible strategies for a coordinated regional talent vision. Accomplishing this will require major roles for Michigan State University and state government, pillars of our local economy. We also must engage key talent influencers from business, government and education along with regional partners like the Chamber, LEAP, CVB and CAMW.

As I mentioned in last month’s Message from the Chamber, we recently have realized new leadership at MSU and in several major business organizations in the community. There is no better time than now to leverage that outstanding talent pool and energize our community leaders around building a talent pipeline that is second to none.