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Welcome! This is the inaugural post for the newly launched Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Communities website. This website is devoted to advancing the development of public/private community wide health initiatives by providing resources, examples and insight on the topic. Much of the website content is devoted to employers interested in playing a role in improving the health of communities where their employees live, work, and play, but other stakeholders will find value in the resources and examples as well.

Developed and maintained by HERO, the Health Enhancement Research Organization, and funded by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, this website is part of several HERO-led initiatives, all of which are devoted to identifying the business case for employer engagement in community wide culture of health efforts. This work includes measure identification and development as well.

Cathy Baase: Throughout my career at The Dow Chemical Company, it has been a privilege to work in an organization with such a longstanding focus on health. As the Chief Health Officer and co-owner of our Dow Health Strategy, I have seen much change in the last couple of decades. Our strategy has been successful in demonstrating alignment to corporate priorities, positively impacting the health of our people and bringing value to both Dow and our population. Many years ago, we realized that culture and environment are powerful and must be addressed in our strategy and implementation plans. We then recognized that it is not simply the culture and environment of the company but also that of the community which would drive success. It is great to see the website coming to life as it will be of great benefit to both employers and those community partners seeking to work with them. In 2007, Dow began working with a multi-stakeholder collaborative in the region surrounding our corporate headquarters, the Michigan Health Improvement Alliance which serves 14 counties in central Michigan. Through this effort we have learned much and have realized some positive impact to our corporate health strategy and its targets. I look forward to the shared knowledge that this website will support and the important progress that will occur in the broader employer and societal efforts to advance the health of people.

Nico Pronk: At HealthPartners, a not-for-profit, member-governed, integrated health system headquartered in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, our mission is to “improve health and well-being in partnership with our members, patients, and community.” The Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Communities initiative represents a unique, intentional, positive, and broadly applicable effort to connect business goals with community interests around health and well-being. As the vice president for health management and chief science officer of the organization, my involvement in this project is an easy fit. We have so much to learn from each other in business, across the community, and across multiple sectors. Yet despite a plethora of efforts across many communities in the U.S., few experiences are shared for the benefit of collective learning. This initiative, and in particular this website, is intended to be a resource accessible to all stakeholders and with the goals to share research insights, practical experiences, case examples, as well as opinions and dialogue from users and other interested parties. We have done some initial work to populate the site; however, this work represents only the tip of the proverbial iceberg…additional submissions of the work you are engaged in and continued use of the site will turn this into the rich and meaningful web-based destination it is envisioned to be.  I, for one, look forward to the dialogue over the coming years.

Now, we’d love to hear from you. What is the value proposition for employers engaging in these efforts? Tell us what you think!!!

Cathy Baase & Nico Pronk

Co-chairs, HERO Employer-Community Collaboration Committee

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