The Leavenworth and Lansing area has been designated a Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone.

The Leavenworth and Lansing area has been designated a Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone.

The designation comes from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Brandon Johannes, president and CEO of the Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce, said the designation represents a commitment to hiring spouses of military personnel and advocating for other opportunities.

“We know that we are going to need to raise awareness,” he said.

Johannes said he was contacted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation last year regarding the designation.

“It just makes sense for our area to have that designation,” he said.

The Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone program is part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative.

The Leavenworth-Lansing area is the first community in Kansas to receive the designation.

Representatives of the local Chamber of Commerce, Leavenworth, Lansing, Fort Leavenworth and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation were on hand Wednesday for the launch of the zone designation.

“It is really with a sense of pride that we receive this designation,” Johannes said.

Natalie Ryan with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation said unemployment for military spouses is four times higher than the overall national unemployment rate.

Col. Marne Sutten, Fort Leavenworth garrison commander, said it is hard for military spouses when they want to work but nothing is available.

Sutten noted that her husband also serves in the military, which makes her a military spouse.

“As a military spouse, I take this very, very seriously,” she said.

Leavenworth Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Griswold read a proclamation that declared Wednesday as “Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone Day.”

Johannes said a committee is typically established to help carry out the Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone initiative in a community. But he said the Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce already has the necessary infrastructure in place. He said the local chamber’s Military Affairs Council will help with the implementation of the program.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR