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A great place to grow a business (10/31/2007)
Winona is a great place to grow a business. It is a great place to grow a career. Why? Because we have a myriad of companies that are embracing new, innovative ways to define work, how it gets done, and how to place flexibility in the workplace.

What does this mean to area employers and future business development? It means that in a marketplace that is competing for the best workers in a shrinking labor pool, we have some of the best companies implementing new thinking - new thinking that attracts and retains the best talent.

What does this mean for people looking for work? It means that there are many great companies in Winona that understand that families and community are important to workers, and there are many businesses where one can secure not only a great career, but also secure a flexible work environment that gives a person "life" outside of the workplace.

How is this all coming about, and how can business owners learn more? The Winona Area Chamber of Commerce offers many opportunities to spotlight Winona businesses that are leading the way in rethinking how work gets done - putting these companies in the spotlight so that other businesses can learn from them and implement similar cultures at their own worksites.

The Winona Area Chamber of Commerce is a partner with a nationwide effort called When Work Works; a Circle of Cities - 30 of them across the US dedicated to engaging businesses in this important initiative to highlight the importance of workplace flexibility and effectiveness as strategies to enhance business' competitive advantage in the global economy - helping both employers and employees succeed.

In May 2007, two Winona businesses, Wells Fargo Winona and MediaScope, were awarded the prestigious nationally recognized Alfred P. Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility. In addition, the Winona Area Chamber of Commerce awarded Management Recruiters with the 2007 Chamber of Commerce Best Place to Work Designation. In the next few months, the Winona Chamber will share more about these businesses, looking at their business culture and how their business environment fosters recruitment and retention of the best workers.

The Chamber has also launched a series of training seminars to help local businesses learn in a hands-on environment how they can examine their current company culture, and begin to develop strategies to create family-friendly, life-friendly work environments. More information about these resources are available at a variety of websites. Consider visiting www.winonachamber.com, www.culturerx.com, and www.whenworkworks.org

The Winona community is rich with locally owned companies that continue to expand and thrive. Winona is also home to several large corporate manufacturing operations that are foundation of our economy and employment base. As we continue to move forward embracing new technologies, changes in educational systems and more generations in the workplace than at any other time in history, workplace flexibility will not just be an idea - it will be the norm. And Winona is embracing this new culture of how work looks and feels. It's a great community to start a business in, a great community to pursue a career.

Della Schmidt is President/CEO of the Winona Area Chamber of Commerce



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