Do you remember the age old adage that “a rising tide lifts all ships?” The idea is that if something is going for well for the team then it benefits each individual on the team.
Or, from a different perspective, if we are helping to grow and improve our community, then it’s good for our members and businesses as well as the local government in the community.
After nearly ten years in the Chamber world as a program director, membership director, Vice President, and President, I’ve long recognized the important role that a chamber plays influencing and working with local government to help create momentum for growth.
I’ve even enjoyed the experiences of facilitating the community’s vision plan working with industries, businesses, civic leaders, and government officials to facilitate a vision and strategic plan to improve and grow our city.
Because of this, I’ve seen firsthand how visionary, engaged, and forward thinking Chambers of Commerce are often uniquely positioned to organize exchange visits, conduct focus groups, facilitate visioning discussions, advocate for change, and to encourage a city/ community to invest in itself to help stimulate growth.
As a result, Chambers of Commerce must be active players influencing local governments to ensure we are building competitive, 21st century cities. Why is this important? Because, our cities are now competing across a global landscape. Each city is an individual player on an international stage. With social media and constant access to information, prospective businesses, industries, visitors, and residents are able to find cities that meet their needs and will move to those cities accordingly.
If local Chambers of Commerce want to be a catalyst for growth and progress, then Chambers will have to actively work with local government officials to develop economic development visions, strategies, and partnerships that help build cities capable of competing in the modern economy. Chambers of Commerce can recommend policies, incentives, and support infrastructure efforts to help cities be more competitive and livable in the 21st century.
Currently, I’m serving my fifth year as Mayor of Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Now, more than ever, I’m convinced of the important role of my local Chamber. We partner and communicate constantly. We work hard to ensure we stay on the same page and that we are constantly seeking ways to improve our city. When we have differences, we work them out without damaging relationships for the future.
Yes, it’s true that a rising tide lifts all ships. But, I’d argue that cities and chambers working together ensures the ship has a forward direction and keeps making progress toward the destination. It’s a pretty simply formula for success…cities + chambers of commerce= community momentum!