Monday, May 18, 2015

Don't Believe the Latest Jobs Report

I recently saw this opinion piece and found it provocative enough to do some fact checking on my own.

What I discovered after pulling the April jobs data is that the author is factually correct in computing the statistics presented here.  While it is unclear what this actually means for Texarkana, I can tell you that our present Business Retention and Expansion Surveys are showing much more optimism.  Over 3/4 of the businesses surveyed are introducing new products and are hiring new employees (or plan to do so in the next year).  Very few project a decline.

While our national job picture may be in doubt, Texarkana USA is again bucking the trends and shows signs of real optimism.

- Bill

Thursday, April 2, 2015


Cisco’s CEO, John Chamber’s, shares about what an established company should do to maintain effective leadership. Chamber quotes, “ If you’re going to lead you have to listen.” Chamber explains you have to listen to your employee team, your customers, you have to get market transitions right, and you have to have the courage to see things coming and make changes before its obvious to others.

Here are three reasons how company’s get into trouble, according to John Chamber.
1. They miss market transition.
2. They keep doing the right thing for too long.  
3. They fail to reinvent themselves either as leaders or within the company.

This is a really profound topic to think about and it could have a huge impact on the direction of your business.

Click on the link below to hear more about John Chamber’s role as CEO with Cisco.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Red River Army Depot - 2015 Veterans' Expo

In the next five years, between 1 and 1.5 million members of the U.S. Armed Forces will leave the military, according to the Department of Defense. Many of these veterans will be seeking new careers; by a great margin, veterans cite finding employment is their number-one need when returning home. Our community is fortunate to have Red River Army Depot who will be sponsoring the Wounded Warrior Expo on Wednesday, March 18 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Truman Arnold Student Center located at Texarkana College. The event will focus primarily on Wounded Warriors, AW2, soldiers under medical review, veterans, family members and caregivers. The expo will provide information regarding job opportunities, community information and support services available to them within the region. Businesses, community organizations, and area service providers are encouraged to participate. Workforce Solutions Northeast Texas will be participating in the event.

For more information, contact RRAD’s LEAD Office at (903) 334-2640 or

Thursday, March 12, 2015

How do you empower your leaders?

How much does it matter to have engaged, empowered, enthusiastic employees? Sometimes it can make the difference between success and failure. It's not about people who are good at what they do, but people you can trust. As an employer it’s important to have the vision, and it's up to your employees to buy in to become a successful company. Trust comes into play when individual team members believe in that challenge and put their skills to use to meet it.

So, how do you create empowered employees?

1. Make sure they care about what you care about.
Hire people who can buy into your vision

2. Make the path to advancement clear.
If someone does their work well, will they be able to move up within your company? And if not, will you help them move on to a better job someplace else? Giving employees a career path is especially important in a small or startup company where they must regularly pitch in and do work that falls outside their traditional job descriptions.

3. Challenge them.
Give your employees an opportunity to expand their skill set, this will help your company too.

4. Tell them how they'll be measured.
You can’t become better unless you’re being measured. Have a conversation about what your employee’s responsibilities are and how they will be evaluated.

5. Get out of their way.
If you trust your employee enough to give them a certain role give them the opportunity to fulfill that role. Give your employees general goals and let them figure out how to reach them.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Our Downtown Matters

Hopefully we are all familiar with the recent efforts to revitalize downtown Texarkana. Thankfully we have an outstanding Main Street program who works continuously to bring back the life of our downtown area. Our Main Street has focused on the Economic Development of this area through preservation, re-purposing, education and community involvement by providing technical assistance and expertise to the Texarkana area. Our Main Street is a proven strategy for revitalization and a powerful network of linked communities. Along with Main Streets efforts they have partnered with another organization that is taking part in these revitalization efforts, Better Block Texarkana.

Better Blocks mission is to provide an experiential hands on look at what Texarkana's downtown could become. Their events are temporary in nature, but designed to create a ground swell of support for downtown in our community. Lee Medley with Better Block Texarkana wrote a blog recently, “State Line Avenue is Texarkana’s GoldenGate Bridge,” discussing his insight of Texarkana and our State Line. There is no denying that our State Line is one of the most recognizable things we have going for us and we need to take better care of it including our entire downtown area. Lee expounds upon the idea if we embraced the idea of interacting with the line we could receive potential benefits along the way in our city. According to Lee Medley, “State Line defines us.  It is our GoldenGate Bridge, our Gateway Arch, and our Statue of Liberty.” It is this type of attitude that is going to make difference in our city. There is so much potential growth for our Economic Development for Texarkana if we continue in our efforts towards our downtown. Texarkana is definitely on the highway to a better downtown area and we are fortunate to have all of the support of those who are working on these efforts.

Coming soon, Better Block Texarkana and Main Street Texarkana are bringing back “Better Block” May 16, 2015. We hope that you will take a part in this endeavor to bring more attraction to our downtown. We need your support!

For more information on how you can get involved you can visit or contact Main Street Texarkana at (903) 792-7191.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Future of Our Cities

CannonDesign's plan for Jaypee Sports City features a continuous 10-mile park woven through a dense urban fabric of high- and low-rise developments. This entirely walkable parkland links all the city’s neighborhoods and social amenities. It's an idea that can improve the life and health of any city, says architect Peter Ellis.

Peter Ellis, an architect and designer of cities and also among the Boomer generation discusses in his most recent article, “How Boomers Will Shape the Future of Our Cities,” how the Boomers will have an impact on the quality of lives and human longevity through reclaiming the public realm in existing cities.

"Brian Kennedy, President and CEO of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, California states, “We will be able to give many people an extra decade of good health, based on what we are able to do in the lab now.” The primary triggers for most disease can be controlled, enabling people to remain productive well into their eighties, nineties, and beyond. How will this “revolution” in human longevity impact our cities? The quality of our lives depends, of course, on more than the latest advances in biomedical research. We now understand that our physical environment and our behavior are the root cause of many of our chronic diseases. This growing awareness underlines our demand for sustainable communities, which support an active and healthy lifestyle." - How Boomers Will Shape the Future of Our Cities
Taken together, the Boomer and Millennial generations generally comprise half the population of a typical city. United, we will be a powerful force for change in our cities.

Read More Here:

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Embracing the Future and Today's Employees

Today we recruit and retain our best employees primarily through financial means. We attract talent using extrinsic incentives, such as an attractive salary, good benefit package, and flexible work arrangements. The competitive nature of hiring the best candidates has forced many companies to offer creative (and expensive) packages. What’s changed? Today’s employees come from a different generation and subsequently have completely different motivators. Money is not the primary driver for this new generation. In fact, one study shows that 50 percent of millennials would rather have no job than have a job they hate.

How do you prepare your organization for this new reality?
1. Embrace flexible and distributed workforces.
2. Hire employees who share in your greater mission. 
3. World-changing work gets done.
4. Business accelerates.

There is no easy button or magic formula to prepare you for the coming market changes. Rather, we encourage that you experiment -- test and adapt new models today to prepare your organization for the new phase shift that is yet to come.

It’s time to embrace the future.

Click Here to read more about “Why Your Best Employees Won’t Work for You in the Future – and that it’s not a bad thing.”

The Benefits of Cross-Training

Implementing cross-training into your company will help you to achieve operational readiness, while promoting teamwork among individuals and across departments. Cross-training will prepare you for the temporarily loss of an employee due to sickness, family emergency, vacation leave, departure or other reasons leaves the company susceptible to decreased productivity, lost revenue, a lower bottom line, and strained customer. “Cross-training helps the organization seamlessly fill the breach when an employee is not available to perform his or her job. It provides operational readiness that cannot be achieved with a temp employee. A ‘hot back-up’ is guaranteed with an effective cross-training program,” states Dan Carrison, a partner with Semper Fi Consulting in Sherman Oaks, California.

The Texarkana Chamber of Commerce has applied cross-training into our organization has seen positive results in times of temporarily or permanent loss of an employee.

Click Here to read more about creating and implementing a successful cross-training plan for your company.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

An individual guide to Affordable Care Act Requirements (Obamacare)

For many the Affordable Care Act legal requirements are a still a mystery.  The Chamber recently enrolled its staff in a health insurance plan through Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas.  They sent us a guide about compliance with the ACA.  This blog isn’t an endorsement of the company in particular.  But I did find that their explanation of the ACA as it relates to individual requirements was very easy to understand.  If you have questions about the ACA or what your legal responsibilities and obligations are, I hope you find this guide to be a helpful start.

for ACA guide