Phil Suter, president and CEO of the Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce. Photo: Scott Hussey Photography
Phil Suter, president and CEO of the Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce, and Linda Rubin, director of the Healthy Monadnock initiative, presented at the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives annual convention in Tennessee. The pair were invited to discuss how the Monadnock Region is working to create a healthy workforce through the Healthy Monadnock initiative.
Founded and developed by Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock in 2007, Healthy Monadnock is a community engagement initiative designed to promote and sustain a positive culture of health throughout Cheshire County and the Monadnock Region. The initiative’s action plans are being guided by the Council for a Healthier Community, a group of 30+ individuals representing schools, organizations, coalitions and businesses. Goals of the program include increasing healthy eating and active living, increasing income and jobs, improving mental well being, increasing emergency preparedness, reducing substance abuse and tobacco use, increasing educational attainment and increasing access and quality of health care.
“A healthier community is good for business…and a well-trained and empowered workforce is also good for business,” says Suter. “When we merge these ideas, we are considering the connections between income and education, economic growth and health improvement.”
Rubin says the work Healthy Monadnock partners are doing in the local community can be a valuable model for other communities and Chambers, particularly with working to bring living wages to workers through the Living Wage Monadnock Coalition.
“Our goal is to bring these ideas, and what we have learned, to other communities…the Annual Chamber event was one way to do that effectively,” she says. “When chambers understand the connection between health and workforce development, they can better address the economic needs in their communities.”
The presenters were introduced by Shuma Panse, program officer for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which has funded two projects of the Living Wage Monadnock Coalition. The Foundation also funds the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, which ranked Cheshire County as the fifth healthiest NH county in its 2017 report. Rockingham and Coos counties were ranked the most and least healthiest, respectively.