LAKEHURST, N.J. –
James Coyle, President of the Gateway Regional Chamber of Commerce, led a networking seminar here for company commanders of the Mid-Atlantic Army Recruiting Battalion on Nov. 6. Lt. Col. Brandon Toolan, Mid-Atlantic Recruiting Battalion commander, invited Coyle to address the importance of community networking after conducting a three-day meeting with the commanders.
Coyle’s presentation focused on the twenty-year partnership between the chamber and the battalion. The two-year changeover of recruiting commanders has been a challenge for the partnership, but renewed interest by Toolan and Michael Halloran, the battalion’s Advertising and Public Affairs chief, helped develop new programs to ensure engagement by both parties. Coyle said he would like to “ensure a continued partnership,” as opposed to it being rediscovered every two years.
Helping orient new commanders to their new environment is a major priority for the partnership. Establishing community partnerships are far from what they are trained to do. The commanders are suddenly placed in a civilian environment and asked to establish a network that will support their recruiting efforts, Coyle said.
“The networking training was very valuable,” said Capt. Kenneth Myers, commander of the North Jersey Recruiting Company.”Company commanders are put into a position where they have to accomplish many tasks they are untrained for, such as maintaining a social network with community partners and business leaders. The networking training we received from the (chamber) provided timely and useful instruction. (It) has long been a valuable partner for the North Jersey Recruiting Company. We were very happy to be given the chance to listen to their sage advice.”
To maintain a continuous relationship within the community, Toolan and Coyle established a one-year training program that will teach commanders how to navigate within their communities and build strong relationships, Coyle said.
The Gateway partnership provides commanders with the who’s who in each community and shows them how to get involved with community leaders and organizations. Eric Nowoslawski, Gateway’s director of special projects, joined Coyle and spoke about how to contact and interact with community leaders. Several commanders have since followed up with Coyle and asked for introductions and advice.
"I found Mr. Coyle's brief very informative in relation to his networking techniques. Mr. Coyle was able to put me in contact with the Greater Newark Alliance. Mr. Coyle’s network has enabled me to set up a meeting with their Director, Mr. Glenn Best, to discuss engagement strategies in the city of Newark and Essex County. Building a local Army presence like this is critical in creating that community relationship," said Capt. Christopher Delgado, commander of the Newark Army Recruiting Company.
Gateway is the largest business organization in the northern New Jersey and New York metropolitan region. The chamber provides business services to its members and is concerned with providing its community with a skilled workforce.
“We have a program that promotes the development of technical careers. One reason we partnered with the U.S. Army is that, for many young people, the military is a great place to get those skills,” said Coyle. “You can be taught how to become a mechanic, truck driver or a computer repair person.”
The chamber offers a scholarship geared to the non-college bound student that wants to develop work skills. According to Coyle, what the Army offers to people who are enlisting is very much the same and Gateway’s relationship with the Army was built on that premise.
“I came to work one morning and there was a young man sitting on the steps in front of my office and he introduced himself as Capt. Rafal Stachowski , commander of the North Jersey Recruiting Company,” Coyle said. “Since that day, we have a established great friendship. Capt. Stachowski brought the Chamber of Commerce and Army Recruiting relationship to a new level.”
The partnership led to the establishment of the Healthy Leap in to Summer Program, one of the largest teen obesity programs in United States from 2006 to 2007. The program’s intent is to encourage teens to become more healthy. The program also helped to establish relationships with other community leaders and organizations.
Under the current COVID restrictions, commanders have been encouraged to get involved with community leaders through virtual meetings and participation in virtual events. Attendees of these discussions include mayors, educators, police, and fire department officials.
“Life is just a bit more fun when you know more people,” Coyle said.