Spotlight On: Meghan Hunscher, President & CEO, Morris County Chamber of Commerce

Spotlight On: Meghan Hunscher, President & CEO, Morris County Chamber of Commerce

2021-11-19T16:29:13+00:00November 19th, 2021|Economy, North Jersey, Spotlight On|

Morris County Chamber of Commerce2 min read November 2021 — The pandemic has fundamentally changed many businesses and Meghan Hunscher, president and CEO of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce, is keen to support member businesses and boost economic growth in the county. “We like to say we’re hometown roots with global reach,” says Hunscher about Morris County’s unique position in a number of dynamic markets. 

What have been some strategies and changes that the Chamber has implemented to manage this unprecedented time?

We had invested in advanced audio-visual technology a few years ago, which helped prepare us for the move to a virtual platform. We were able to provide information to our members, especially when it came to the state offering grants and loans. We were also very proactive about getting out health and wellness information. The Chamber took the crisis as an opportunity for members to showcase and share their expertise, from digital marketing to legal information. 

We also discovered skills among our employees through our virtual platforms, which spoke to the importance of building capacity and capabilities with staff who can pivot, be flexible and dedicated to your mission and clients. As much as people like working in person, they appreciate the ease of working virtually so when we do bring people back together, we have a celebration. We are trying to hold events that have social elements, networking, and making it feel it’s worth people’s while.

How are your members doing and how are you working to meet their needs?

We have a diverse county, from larger corporations to small, locally owned businesses. Right now, the big issue is the workforce. We have about 20,000 job openings in the professional scientific and technical sector and a county median salary of $120,000. We’re working closely with our workforce development board and higher education institutions to build talent pipelines. On the other hand, we have become a destination for medical care. The healthcare sector, including medical devices and pharmaceutical and dental insurance companies, is booming in Morris County and people are choosing to stay because of the access.

Why is there a labor shortage for high salaried jobs?

A lot of these science and technical jobs require very specific skill sets and years of experience, so there’s a lot of competition for talent. Baby boomers are also retiring, so those vacancies need to be filled. Immigration is another issue. Immigrants are so important to our state’s economy and since we haven’t had robust national immigration policies, it has been challenging to address these workforce shortages.

What trends, such as working from home, is the Chamber preparing for in the near future?

While there’s an element of people wanting to be back in the office, we believe flexibility will be important for white-collar jobs moving forward. Families have rediscovered the suburbs and want to be working closer to home, so there’s unprecedented pressure on single-family units. We’re going to see more multigenerational living because we’re running out of land and housing costs are so high. As a result, people are coming to rely on their communities as well as nonprofits. We have over 100 nonprofits just within our chamber. Residents and businesses are still trying to figure out a lot of things and it’ll take a while to see the impacts, but we anticipate the establishment of more satellite offices in the next few years as residents are more reluctant to commute long distances yet would like an alternative to their home office.

Why do you think there are so many nonprofits located in Morris County?

We like to say we’re hometown roots with a global reach. We have 39 communities within a larger metro area of 500,000 residents. There’s a tight-knit feel even if they’ve moved in from out of country or state. There’s a robust public-private not-for-profit culture and the government has always been supportive of the sector, as have philanthropists, whether individual or corporate. I call it the virtuous circle as we’ve been the location for hundreds of corporate headquarters, which have had success and created wealth and want to give back to the community.

What is your outlook for Morris County in the next two to three years?

We have a growing minority population and we’re reaching out to more Hispanic and Asian business owners as the county trends toward more diverse communities and economies. There are more life science companies moving in and lots of development in the warehouse distribution sector. New Jersey has legalized marijuana, an industry that’s poised for growth in the county. If we continue to experience a hiring crisis, we have to look at immigration to grow a diverse workforce. We’re running out of land so we have to be creative, adding more mixed-use units and adjacency so people can live closer to where they work. There are challenges but we are very bullish on the future. 

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