Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
This has been an interesting summer…we’ve gone from monsoon to drought to monsoon all in a period of about 45-days!! When farming, I always figured if you could get a couple of inches of rain the last week of June or the first week of July you were going to raise good corn. This year has been different however…really too much rain – leaching the fertilizer and causing the corn to look bad early. We’ll see at harvest time…one thing for certain – if you don’t like this year, you can bet it will be different next year!
 
It was good to get home from D.C. this week…and it took a fair amount of effort to do so. After waiting in Reagan National Airport for 5-hours, my flight home was cancelled at 9:30 p.m.…causing me to find a hotel room and book new flights. On Sunday I was able to find a way home flying through Charlotte, North Carolina…the flight boarded on time – but we sat on the tarmac 2-hours waiting for the pilot to arrive to fly us 50-minutes south…so 3 hours on a plane for a 50-minute flight. I finally did get home Monday morning at 2:00 a.m. I started my trip early Saturday and made it home early Monday…it felt as if I was traveling 3-days. Most of the delay was blamed on employee shortages…can’t get piolets, baggage handlers, stewards and stewardesses…and this is just one industry. All of America is fighting the labor shortage.
 
National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB): 
 
I mentioned last week I was in Washington attending the NAWB Forum…workforce boards are commissioned by the federal government to identify and train the labor force to fit the ever-changing needs of industry and manufacturing and oversee the federal Workforce and Innovation Act (WIOA) funds. Last Friday afternoon we heard from U.S. Department of Labor Secretary, Marty Walsh. Secretary Walsh outlined the challenge is to train and educate the labor force for when and where they are in their lives…that work transforms people’s lives. The Department of Labor is predicting that 50 percent of all employees will require upskilling by 2025 (primarily because of the fast advancements of technology) and that over 40 percent of the labor force will change jobs post-pandemic. Many are retiring early, some will refuse to go back to the same job if they are not allowed to work from home at least half the time, and some are choosing to leave the workforce to stay home to raise families. Economists are quick to admit we are in uncharted waters…they can’t make sense of it…as a nation we’ve never experienced anything quite like this. As a nation, they are reticent to predict inflation or deflation because they can’t readily define the labor force. Such are the times in which we live!!
 
Franklin Co. Attorney, Brandon Jones:
 
Our own Brandon Jones spoke with Rotarians this week…more or less giving us the “State of the Fr. Co. Courts”. As with everything in our lives, COVID has wreaked havoc with trials and the court dockets. A fair amount of trials have been able to progress with the use of Zoom…other judges have used a strict masking and social distancing policy in order the keep things moving at some sort of a pace…but the need to sanitize all the surfaces between trials adds an additional slowing affect. Brandon shared the one thing which hasn’t happened in over a year is a jury trial. Each district had to submit a plan for their district’s proposal for safe trials to be heard by juries…the Franklin County plan was recently approved and in September, jury trials will resume and be held in Ottawa Memorial Auditorium. The Judge and attorneys will be on stage, the jury in the lower, first level seating and visitors in the balcony. Brandon said with no trials in the last year, they are getting a little backlogged. With the courts hoping to get caught up, he cautioned, most local citizens should watch their mailboxes for jury duty notice beginning in September…ugh! 
 
Legacy Square:
 
There will be a big announcement next week…readers will read it here first (complete press release here). The Onward Ottawa board is going to allow non-profit organizations to use Legacy Square free if they will create an event which is sustainable for multiple years. The Square was built with contributions from the community with the idea it would facilitate festivals and events to bring groups and people into the downtown. Completed in the fall of 2019, COVID and 2020 created a bit of a damper on the plans for the new facility…now feeling we are coming out from under, the board is hoping local organizations will become creative as to what the space can be used for – Chili cook-offs, barbeque contests, fundraisers, art festivals. Let your imagination run wild…this is everyone’s opportunity to help start that event which you have always thought was missing in Ottawa!! I’m anxious to see some of the ideas which come forward.
 
Chautauqua Festival:    
 
Hope everyone has a happy and safe 4th of July this weekend as we celebrate our Nation’s 245th birthday. The Chamber’s Chautauqua Committee has been working hard to create an event in Forest Park which all will enjoy…here is the schedule of events. If you really want to make a day of it, you can start at 7:30 in the morning with the Franklin Co. Cancer Foundation Firecracker Run and pancake feed (at Forest Park shelter house). Free swimming begins at 1:00 and activities begin in earnest at 4:00 with turtle races, water balloon toss and 3-legged races. Cherry and I have grandkids coming and as luck would have it, we found a turtle last evening…he looks fast too!!
 
The City band will play a patriotic performance and we’re reading the Declaration of Independence at 6:00…fireworks at dusk. It all promises to be very festive…hope I see you there. The weather promises to cooperate too with temps in the 80s as a slight north breeze to keep the humidity low…all sounds too good to be true!!
 
All in all it will be a great weekend to relax and enjoy family, friends and festivities. Be safe…I’ll talk to you next week!
 
Onward ~ John  
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000