3rd Quarter 2018 - Together It's our responsibility
Bill Plank, 2018 Chamber Chair
You go 'round and around it
You go over and under
I go through
-O.A.R., “I Go Through”
The first chamber Chairman with whom I worked closely was Joe Scheppers. Prior to his chairmanship, he and I co-chaired a committee with a charge to revitalize Small Business in the area. I remember being awestruck at how much time, thought and energy Joe put into this committee. Despite having a beer distributorship to run, Joe poured hours into this committee to make other people’s lives better. It really opened my eyes to what can happen when we “go through” the work instead of avoiding it.
Area residents often compare us to other places they’ve been. “Why can’t we have a…” or “There is nothing to do around here.” or “We need a…” There are people that complain from a distance and will criticize every action a person or organization takes, always wishing for more. This want for more is simultaneously a source of frustration and excitement. While some dwell on the negative, there are others that see these comments as opportunities and turn them into positive momentum.
The Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce consists of about 1800 individual members. Members of the Board of Directors, Civic Progress, Retail Committee, Chamber Ambassadors and others are all local people that have a passion for change and actually make it happen! They don’t get paid to do this; they do it because it matters to them and they want to make sure we are more vibrant tomorrow than yesterday. By involving ourselves in committees and being chamber members, we have the opportunity to discuss the needs of the community and take steps toward a solution.
There are many ways to get involved. The chamber committees are focused on four areas to make Cole County better: Talent (to develop, retain, and attract talent), Growth (to stimulate business growth), Place (to enhance our quality of place), and Membership (to maximize our existing members’ return on investment and grow membership). Many employers allow and even encourage their employees to get involved in initiatives at the chamber for a multitude of reasons. My employer, Naught-Naught Insurance Agency, benefits from the publicity gained through my authorship of this article and by showing their continued commitment to the business community – our target audience. They also benefit by me gaining exposure to leadership positions and more diverse problem solving which I can apply to our business. I’d encourage every member to start looking for a way they can utilize their talents to make Jefferson City a better place through one of these committees. Trust me, chamber leadership listens when you speak up.
Even if you are not a chamber member yet, there are still ways you can help make our community better. For example, did you know the chamber is hosting a franchise fair with the goal of explaining more options for people to start their own business? We love our local mom and pops but also recognize that starting a business from scratch is very hard with many barriers to entry. Franchising can help provide the knowledge to get a business running while also bringing a recognizable name brand to our area. For many people, entrepreneurship isn’t in the cards so it is important for all to realize the chamber members and staff work together every day to make Jefferson City a better place for business and families.
There hasn’t been a magic moment that led to this chairmanship. I simply got involved and stayed involved because of a deep love for our community. More than some city on a river, it’s my home. It’s where my friends and family live and I want them to love it here too. As the closing lines in the aforementioned song “I Go Through” says:
We go 'round and around it
We go over and under
We go through
We each have the responsibility to make this a great place to be and I look forward to going through it with you.