Johnson: Building bridges between community partners

One of the pillars of the Bossier Chamber is partnerships. Not only do we seek to build partnerships for our members, but we also work to build meaningful relationships for partners within our community.

In 2018, we changed the speaker list for one of the Bossier Chamber’s popular, educational events to encompass our entire local military community – moving from the Barksdale Leadership Forum to the Military Leadership Forum. The Army, Navy and Marines Reserves, National Guard and the Military Entrance Processing Station were the newcomers to the event, formatted as a casual talk from the military leaders to let the business community know about their mission, what they do within this community and what they need from our community.

A common theme for the evening was each speaker’s talk about their mission and their vision as the leaders of their commands. New 2nd Bomb Wing Commander Col. Michael Miller said his vision to his airmen is simple – Be the best you can be! His three priorities, for himself and his airmen: the mission, taking care of and growing airmen, and taking care of their families.

Brig. Gen. Peter Schneider, Louisiana Air National Guard talked about the National Guard’s unique role in not only serving the nation but also the state and the region. Schneider connected with Air Force Global Strike Command while at the event and also spoke about a regional topic we are all becoming more familiar with – the National Guard’s enhanced focus on cyber security.
MEPS Executive Officer Capt. Roderick Brown truly works with all branches, as he helps connect people with the branch of the military they choose to serve in. MEPS also focuses on youth development, working within the schools, but also on community outreach, as they do numerous service projects throughout the year.

Many of the speakers represented reserve units and spoke of the level of commitment those soldiers give to their units, even though it seems like just a once a month job. It isn’t.

Lt. Col. Eddie Smith, the commander of the Army Reserve Center Facility on Swan Lake Road, lives in Dallas and commutes here for his service time, as many of the reservists do, he added. They come and stay in our hotels and eat in our restaurants once a month. Often we don’t think about these regular visitors to our region but they are most certainly coming.

Lt. Commander Raymond Alley of the U.S. Navy Reserve spoke about how businesses can be of great aid to reservists, and one way is just through support. Alley said he understands as a business owner how difficult it can be when one of your employees is deployed or on an assignment and out of the office. He suggested businesses be patient, persevere and continue to hold those jobs for these dedicated men and women who are serving our country.

“To have our community leaders and all branches of our military together, it’s so evident to see our patriotism and community stand together with the same goals, no matter our backgrounds, ethnicities or religious or political stances,” said Terry Petzold, Managing Partner of Magee Resource Group.

“Our business thrives as additional growth happens within our military here in the area. The economic impact for all of us, whether or not you’re involved in the military is substantial.”

Don’t miss out on our growing military programs showcasing our joint forces in this region. Stay up-to-date at bossierchamber.com.

Lisa Johnson is President and CEO of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce