O’Reilly: Veterans valuable assets to area business

by Don Heinzman
Contributing writer

Ben Bauman, new chair of the Elk River Area Chamber of Commerce, wants to make views of business members better known in the community through a more active Governmental Relations Committee.

Bauman said sometimes the positions of the business community and other agencies differ and those differences need to be heard. He declined to cite any differences but did mention the sign ordinance where the chamber worked with the city of Elk River to help the city understand some important points.

The Governmental Relations Committee has become more active and last year approved resolutions of support for the mission of the Elk River Energy City,  endorsement of the E-Fairness legislation requiring on-line retailers to collect and remit state sales tax and joined the Minnesota Federation to assist with public policy research for the chamber.

It also adopted a platform that supports reliable and affordable energy initiatives, energy conservation and efficiency programs and free market programs that maximize competitive, responsible and efficient use of energy.

Bauman made his comments at the chamber’s annual meeting after he was installed as the chair, succeeding Trisha Mowry.

Barb O’Reilly, director of Women Veterans and Employment Initiatives of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs, spoke on how “Veterans are a Valuable Asset for Your Business.”

O’Reilly stressed that veterans have skills, developed in the military that can be used by business. Some of those skills are leadership, teamwork, performing under pressure, triumphing over adversity, loyalty and competitiveness.

“Returning veterans are not looking for favors,” she said. “They are looking for opportunities.”

O’Reilly particularly stressed their leadership skills and ability to work with others.

Later she commented that, while the national unemployment rate for veterans had been at 20 percent, it’s reported to be at 10 percent.

Employers with job openings are urged to go to the website PositivelyMinnesota.com, search for veterans and look at resumes on file.

The Department of Economic Development (DEED) has a work force center and representatives who will work with veterans in finding employment.

New board members are Marcy Van Valkenburg, Bonnie Koste and John Tracy. Other board members are Mark Urista, chair-elect; Dusty Bredlow, treasurer; Mowry, past chair and Gina Artisensi-Skime; Marilyn Bina, Lynn Caswell, Ethne Hedren and Cathy McManus. Debbi Rydberg is the executive director.

In its annual report to members, the chamber said it raised over $16,000 for local nonprofits during its second annual Shiver Elk River involving 100 plungers.