Chamber News

Building Bridges- From a dream to reality
Published: Monday, February 18, 2019 8:00 am
By: Randy Allen

As we close out 2018 and look forward to 2019, I would like to share with you the remarks 2018 Board Chair Bill Plank delivered to nearly 700 assembled at the Annual Gala on January 25th at Capitol Plaza Hotel.

I owe a huge thanks to all of you. Somebody asked me the other day if I was nervous about giving this speech and they seemed shocked when I said no. It really feels like I’m just speaking with a bunch of friends when I’m up here.  You are the chamber. Not me. Not the board. Not Randy or the staff.  It’s you.  Thanks for your membership and all you do every day. 

As representatives of the membership, a special thanks goes to the board for your guidance and executive committee for all your work on complex issues.  Those that have served on the executive committee understand EC meetings can best be described as a “war room.”  Janet Weckenborg, Dave Minton, Darren Heckman, Jeff Davidson, Jason Otke, and Chip Webb -  you are amazing!

One year ago, I stood at this podium and shared with you that 2018 was the 125th anniversary of the Chamber and we were going to build both figurative and literal bridges. I don’t have time to talk about all the great work done this year, but to all of you that rolled up your sleeves and got your hands dirt, job well done!

I do want to make sure to acknowledge some very special people that have been instrumental in the Bicentennial Bridge process. By the way, this committee conducted a survey and learned 91% of respondents think it’s a good idea.  91%!  Louis Landwehr chairs the riverfront development committee and I quickly went from seeing Louis as a competitor to a deep appreciation for him and Winter-Dent.  His approach towards business, treating folks with dignity, and doing the right thing is second to none.   Another amazing person on that committee is our mayor, Carrie Tergin.  Once again, she’s proven when she puts her mind to something, it’s going to get done! Our elected officials at every level can learn a lot about leadership and civic service by paying attention to her sweet tenacity.

Most importantly, BJ Delong is an absolute saint with a huge amount of love for this community and the potential we have.  Mrs. Delong, you’ve not only given us the opportunity to create a steel and concrete structure, you’ve given us the chance to create memories for generations.  Thank you for your generosity and vision and I can’t wait to walk down that bridge with my kids!

2018 was a wild ride and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  Thanks again for giving me the chance to lead such a fine group and next time you have an opportunity to get involved in the Chamber, do it! Who knows where you’ll end up!

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