Simon West. Courtesy photo

Fellowship provides state and local business leaders with opportunities to engage nationally on critical education and workforce issues

AUGUSTA — Simon West, government relations specialist at the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, has been selected by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation to participate in the fifth cohort of its premiere business leadership program. The Business Leads Fellowship Program trains and equips leaders from state and local chambers of commerce, economic development agencies, and trade associations with resources, access to experts, and a network of peers to build their capacity to address the most pressing education and workforce challenges.

“I am honored to have been chosen for the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s Fellowship Program,” said West. “Market forces, especially technology, environmental concerns, and consumer preferences have been changing the labor market for some time. The pandemic has launched these changes forward rapidly with many changes likely to stay. All challenges can bring about progress when opportunities and strengths are understood and leveraged. I am excited to work with colleagues around the nation to discover, create, and build upon programs that can be used to strengthen Maine’s labor market. A robust economy is best generated through attaining the appropriate skills to turn inputs into quality products and services. This process begins with workforce development and education.”

“We created the Business Leads Fellowship Program in response to the needs of our state and local chamber partners,” said Cheryl Oldham, senior vice president of the Center for Education and Workforce at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. “They, better than anyone, see the critical link between education and economic development, and we are glad to be able to support them as they take on this critical leadership role in their community.”

Following a competitive application and selection process, West was selected along with 34 other state and local chamber executives and association leaders to participate in the fifth class of this program. The yearlong virtual program, which concludes with an in-person meeting in June 2022, will cover the entire talent pipeline, including early childhood education, K-12, higher education and workforce development.

Upon completion, Business Leads Fellows will join the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s dedicated network of 200 chambers of commerce and statewide associations from around the nation who regularly engage on education and workforce initiatives.

For more information on the Business Leads Fellowship Program, visit the program’s website.