This local business leader was the only Ohioan to complete a recent national program

Rick Pearce, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Serving Middletown, Monroe & Trenton.
Rick Pearce, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Serving Middletown, Monroe & Trenton.

A local business leader recently completed an education and workforce fellowship program aimed at helping address the most pressing education and workforce issues.

Rick Pearce, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce serving Middletown, Monroe and Trenton, graduated from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's inaugural Business Leads Fellowship Program

The program trains and equips leaders from state and local chambers of commerce, giving them various resources, access to experts and a network of peers to build their capacity to address education and workforce challenges, according to the foundation.

Pearce said he is grateful to have been selected for the program, as it gave him the opportunity to meet an array of colleagues nationwide who are challenged by similar issues.


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“The Business Leads program allowed me to be better informed of other programs and best practices that are taking place across the country,” Pearce told this news outlet. “We were also introduced to national experts in their field who can supply us with the data and resources to be able to solve for our local skills gap challenges locally.

Following a competitive application and selection process, which included approximately 300 requests for application and 140 applicants. Pearce was selected along with 34 other state and local chamber executives to participate in the inaugural class.

He was the only representative from Ohio.

The four-month program, which ended last week, spanned the entire talent pipeline, including early childhood education, K-12, higher education and workforce development.

Upon completion, Business Leads Fellows 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.

Cheryl Oldham, senior vice president of the Center for Education and Workforce, said the program “clearly displayed” that state and local leaders know better than anyone the critical link between education and economic development.”

“Not only did the Fellows gain a network of peers and experts in the field, the program is designed to help these leaders find opportunities to develop initiatives that will continue to advance the growth of their local economy and put education policy into practice,” Oldham said.

The program, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation said it will host a second cohort in spring 2019 because of “overwhelming” interest in the program.

For a full list of participants in the Business Leads inaugural class, visit