Westfield Chamber eyes continued growth in business community

Westfield Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Julie Sole, center, is joined at the group’s January luncheon by 2015 board members (from left) Nick Verhoff, Kevin Buchheit, Terri Flood, Rob Garrett, Tom Warner, Tom Dooley, Eric Lohe and Dwight DePeau. Not pictured are board members Karen Keinsley, Andi Montgomery, Eric Douthit, Pat Fox, Bob Robey and Jeff Sinclair. (Photo by Mark Robinson)

Westfield Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Julie Sole, center, is joined at the group’s January luncheon by 2015 board members (from left) Nick Verhoff, Kevin Buchheit, Terri Flood, Rob Garrett, Tom Warner, Tom Dooley, Eric Lohe and Dwight DePeau. Not pictured are board members Karen Keinsley, Andi Montgomery, Eric Douthit, Pat Fox, Bob Robey and Jeff Sinclair. (Photo by Mark Robinson)

By Mark Robinson

Emphasis on workforce development was a key theme during the Westfield Chamber of Commerce’s most recent monthly luncheon at the Bridgewater Club. The chamber’s new board of directors’ executive committee was also introduced to nearly 100 members of the business community.

Board member Dwight DePeau of Standard Locknut said the city’s continuing business growth is borne out by the fact that the chamber added 49 new members in 2014. More business means the need for more qualified employees, and the chamber’s economic development committee has been tasked with formulating ideas to accommodate that growth.

Board member Kevin Buchheit put it succinctly. “We need to find out,” said Buchheit, from Krieg DeVault, LLP, “where are the workers, where are the jobs and how do we make those connections?”

Added DePeau, “It’s not just about getting (qualified employees for the right positions), but also retaining them.”

Board member Nick Verhoff of Westfield Washington Schools said the chamber’s governmental affairs committee that he chairs has worked diligently with local and state government to “foster that relationship.” Mayor Andy Cook, who attended the luncheon and was a guest speaker, concurred.

“About four years ago,” Cook said, “the chamber came to us and asked how they could be more involved and more relevant in what’s going on. They have really stepped up to do that. Those communities who can develop their workforce are going to win. In a word, it’s about collaboration. We have that and that’s what is making Westfield the envy of the land.”

The chamber’s 2015 executive committee consists of: Tom Dooley from First Merchants Bank, president; Rob Garrett of Ameriana Bank, vice president; Karen Keinsley, Slattery & Holman P.C., treasurer; and Buchheit, secretary.

Also, Select Home Health Services was named winner of the Westfield in Lights business decoration competition.