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Loaded with Local Talent

By Jim Mikula, President/CEO

During the Fredericksburg 20-year visioning process a few years back, I had the opportunity to sit on the Steering Committee which provided the opportunity to interact with members of our community who I might not have met otherwise. I was (and still am) amazed at the talent we have in our little town. From descendants of the immigrants who started Fredericksburg back in 1846 to newcomers of all types: executives retiring from major corporations retiring, consultants or freelancers setting up their businesses in town, and a plethora of small businesses, to name a few. This rich mix is an important element to our town’s economy, the lifestyle we all cherish, and a talent pool to leverage when dealing with the current and future challenges we will all face.

One of our goals at the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce this year is to identify untapped talent in our community and help put it to work. Two intended outcomes of achieving this goal are to encourage diversification of our economy and to support existing small businesses by creating a mentoring program or a business “mastery” program. Well, some talent found me first.

Each year, I support the Admiral Nimitz Foundation by putting together prizes for the annual live auction, and for many years, I worked hand-in-hand with Andrea Olsen-Condon putting those prizes together. Andrea is Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Tanglewood Family Office. She has a history of successful entrepreneurship and was also teaching a course for budding entrepreneurs at a university in the Houston area. She reached out to me a few weeks back and presented an opportunity for the Chamber to work with her on producing an entrepreneur program here in Fredericksburg. I was already nodding “yes” before she even finished explaining and speculated that a good timetable for launching the program might be Spring 2025. With her entrepreneur mindset, Andrea responded quickly to say that we can start the program this fall!

A week later, I was meeting with an elected city official, and I mentioned the Chamber sponsoring an entrepreneurship program. He was thrilled about the program as he had been studying the success of the “entrepreneurial ecosystem” of the small city of Bend, Oregon. Supporting the efforts by the community to leverage and grow its entrepreneurial infrastructure was the Bend lifestyle which is similar to Fredericksburg in that it is a pleasant place to work - away from the hustle and bustle of a major city, but also loaded with brains and talent.

Often entrepreneur programs are interpreted to be for startups only, and we want our program to also support existing businesses seeking to grow and innovate. In a book about Bend’s success “How to Make Yor Community’s Economy Sizzle” by Jim Schell, the author states that “second stage entrepreneurship is getting to the point of positive cash flow… these second stage businesses create the most jobs.”

If you would like to be part of this initiative either as a participant, case study, or mentor please reach out to me at the Chamber: Also, we will be adding this program to our website with more details over the next few months. This program will provide the Chamber with a second excellent program to compliment the 30-year-old Leadership Gillespie County program.

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