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DeKalb County business leaders talk about making the area thrive at annual dinner

DeKALB – The DeKalb County Economic Development Corp. showed off the many developments around town to those who attended its State of the County 2019 annual dinner program.

Once DCEDC Executive Director Paul Borek was finished talking about the various projects around the county, he introduced Cohen Barnes, the DCEDC president, who expressed satisfaction about the ongoing economic development throughout the county.

“I love seeing the part that Paul talks about with all the brick-and-mortar that’s going on,” he said. “It’s really wonderful to see a lot of activity. The economy has turned around. A lot of stuff has been happening in the last five years, but when you actually see the amount of development going on, it’s just wonderful to know our community is making forward progress.”

Barnes said he is working on five goals:

• Ensure DeKalb County has a talent pipeline meeting the needs of workers and employers.

• Identify and recruit target industries.

• Create a countywide business climate in DeKalb County that contributes to business success.

• Brand and promote the “DeKalb County Experience” that focuses on the county’s unique assets.

• Collaborate countywide to maximize the economic health of all communities in DeKalb County.

Barnes said DCEDC is not only about economic development and trying to facilitate businesses interested in coming to town.

“We’re trying to take the destiny of this county into our own hands and really work together from a countywide community perspective in order to move the needle with DeKalb County.”

Barnes then introduced Tim Suter, president and CEO of The Suter Co., who talked about how his company is trying to figure out how to best serve its employees.

“It’s a funny thing, right?” he said. “If you have a full-time job, you’re going to spend at least half your waking hours at work. That’s a big commitment. Unfortunately as it turns out, when you read the statistics, there aren’t a lot of people who love what they do.”

He said 16% of all employees are fully engaged in their job, 80% don’t trust their leaders, and only about 40% of people who were interviewed suggested what they have is a good job. Suter called it discouraging.

Suter said as it turns out, happiness at work is really important.

Suter brought up The Gallup Organization, which surveys employees around the world on what brings the most happiness. The list includes good health, a good job, love and respect from others, money for needs and a better life for one’s children.

“It turns out in the midst of research that what they’re figuring out is having a good job is actually the single biggest contributor to overall happiness,” Suter said. “That’s pretty striking.”

He said his Sycamore-based company – family owned since 1925 – is chasing the idea of providing its 280 employees a job they love to do and a place they love to work.

Suter said business is challenging and then he shared his favorite quote.

“Excellence is not the absence of failure,” he said.

The balding Suter also used some self-deprecating humor to show how the quote applies to him and his company.

“We have a lot of challenges in the food business that we wrestle with every single day and it’s why I’m not quite full up top there anymore.”

Suter explained that his biggest challenge is staying unique and innovative.

“We’re essentially competing for our itty-bitty share of the lunch market and the snack and appetizer market,” he said.

Suter mentioned happiness again and how The Suter Co. is trying to make it happen.

“Like anything in life, the first thing you have to do is make up your mind it’s actually a priority,” he said. “Create an environment in your workplace where people are going to be engaged and gonna be happy.”

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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