From the Chamber Chair
Joe Scheppers, N. H. Scheppers Distributing
Becoming a Community Fan
Most of you are fans of some sports team – whether it’s the Mizzou Tigers, the St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs or any other local, college, or professional team. You know what it’s like to have pride in your team. You wear team apparel or display the school colors. You rejoice when they excel, and hurt with them when they fall short. You identify with them. Not a sports fan? Then perhaps you’re a fan of a musical artist or music group. You buy their music, you sing their songs, you wear their T-shirts or display their posters. You identify with them just as sports fans identify with their teams.
Are you a fan of our community? Do you take pride in it? Do you identify with it?
As we discussed “quality of place” at our recent Chamber Board retreat, the words “community pride” came up quite often. It was encouraging to me to hear our board be so passionate about this community and to hear that they are concerned with community pride and building a sense of identity within our community.
It’s human nature to dwell on the negative instead of the positive. For example, after falling short of becoming World Series Champions this year, much of Cardinal Nation lamented (even mourned) the loss and questioned management, voiced disappointment with some of the players’ efforts, and focused more on the negative than on the positive. We had a great season. We won the division and the National League Championship, yet, it was easier to focus on the negative than the positive. I’m glad to see that now most of the fans are past the negative and looking forward to opening day in 2014.
It’s the same in our community. People dwell on the negative instead of the positive. That’s why it was so refreshing to hear so many positive things about our community and witness the passion our board members have for our community. I’d like to share some of their thoughts with you.
Jefferson City is a great place to raise a family. We have good schools, churches, cultural opportunities, recreational activities, a great library, parks, and many civic organizations that promote family values.
Jefferson City offers many opportunities for young professionals to become “big fish in a small pond.” Our young professionals on our board are very appreciative of the fact that they have been able to assume leadership roles in the community at a young age. In a larger city, these opportunities are often not available.
Our community has great small businesses and encourages entrepreneurship. The recent “Pitch It and Win It Event” is evidence that new business ideas are welcomed and supported.
Our community is a giving community. Year after year, the United Way goal is met and surpassed, in large part due to our local business community. Our businesses encourage their employees to be active in the community. To give you one example of this, our 2013 Small Business of the Year recipient, Wallstreet Group, has donated more than $550,000 to community organizations since 2009. The total number of organizations they support is 78!!! They are just one example of the many businesses who support our community.
Community leaders meet together to discuss common goals. Our city, county and chamber leaders have forged a partnership that is the envy of many communities. We may take this partnership for granted here, but this type of partnership is not as common as you may think . We are very fortunate to have cooperative leaders.
We are the state capital! No other city in Missouri can claim that title. We have an opportunity to bring people from all over the state to our city for business, tourism, sporting events, and state-wide conferences and meetings. State government also increases our employment opportunities and has a big impact on our local economy.
These are just a few of the positive things in Jefferson City and Cole County – I encourage you to think of many more!
Is our community perfect? Of course not. No community is perfect. Community leaders continue to address the strengths and weaknesses in our economy, in our quality of place, in the area of local talent (workforce) and work together to strengthen and improve our community. We invite you to be a part of that process. Do you have an idea that will make our community better or more attractive? Do you see a need that must be addressed? Are you part of a group that thinks “outside the box” and discusses how to improve our community? You are encouraged to submit your ideas through the new “Big Idea Sharing” (BIS) module. BIS is designed to get ideas from the public and move them through a vetting process (see the related article on this page.) Working together, we can make a difference in our future.
Recently, Jefferson City was named “Most Beautiful Small Town” by Rand McNally. This designation was a result of a group of people who are proud of our city. Because of their diligence and pride in the community, we won the contest. If that pride can become contagious, we will be winners in every category.
I encourage all of you to become a community fan. Take a look around our community and give thanks for the many good things we enjoy here. Happy Thanksgiving!
(Watch for a new Chairman's Message in Chamber TODAY the 2nd Monday of each month. That message will then be posted on this page.)