August 15, 2019
Talk Business & Politics
Batesville economic and political leadership has made a huge push in the past several years to invest more in education from pre-K to post-college.
Jamie Rayford, chief operating officer of the Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce, has been in the center of these significant changes. The chamber has created several organizations to drive different results and to pursue various agendas related to economic development, education and quality of life.
Rayford visited with Talk Business & Politics CEO Roby Brock on the uniqueness of Batesville’s efforts.
Roby Brock: Give me an overarching idea of why the Batesville chamber and the Independence County community put so much investment into education. It seems to me that it is much more coordinated than many other communities. What is driving this?
Jamie Rayford: We are a community with not just economic stability, but economic prosperity in mind. Leaders in our community compare the investment in education to that of buying versus renting a house. Most bases of industry and many businesses are facing a shortage of talent and skills, forcing them to hire, train, and repeat the cycle when the candidate is not work-ready, thus spending money and often retaining no asset or return on investment, in a sense they are renting their workforce.
Investing in a higher percentage of young residents’ education is an investment in the resident’s capacity to learn executive function skills and habits that are most desired in the workplace. This is a long-term investment strategy, such as buying a home. By laying a strong foundation we develop equity each year that a student is able to learn more along their path to career readiness.
Are we more coordinated than many other communities? I hope so. We work at this every single day, countywide. Just like an orchestra takes different groups working together to achieve harmony, so does workforce development and the Chamber has become the conductor of these important groups. We face the same obstacles that all of the other communities face as well – funding shortages, school choice, teacher shortages, etc., and the thing that we do differently, we always begin with listening, seeking to learn as much as we can as fast as we can, and almost always, immediately prescribe collaboration.