Chamber News

Come in, We're Open
Published: Tuesday, June 16, 2020
By: Darren Heckman, 2020 Chair

I’m not sure we have ever experienced a time in which this phrase has meant more than it does today.  In the last 12 months, we have had a tornado rip through the heart of our city, a flood slowed our summer, and a global pandemic shut down the world as we know it. I’m not trying to sound too dramatic but I’d argue it’s hard to find a more challenging 12-month period in our community’s history.

“We’re Open” is quite the accomplishment.  In a society which has come accustomed to having whatever we want when we want it, the last eight weeks have very abruptly had everything we hold near and dear put in proper order.  Putting the emphasis on “we” a little more than “me” and making sure those most vulnerable are taken care of first.  As our community began to re-open from COVID on May 1st, I found myself truly appreciating every “We’re Open” sign I saw in a window, every email received letting me know which local businesses were opening back up.  COVID took a big swing at our economy and the true damage or impact of its blow will not be known for a long time.  But I think just as important, COVID landed a big right hook to our confidence.  With a every day of recovery and every new “We’re Open” sign, we gain a little more confidence as a community.  Our fears are lessoned and the belief we are going to be okay is strengthening.   And while the internet has allowed us to visibly stay connected, a big part of any strong community is being able to physically connect.  Attending a place of worship, holding youth baseball or softball practice, or simply having a family or neighborhood barbecue all help us find our legs and ability to get up off the mat.

If the last 12 months have proven anything, it has proven Jefferson City, Cole County and the surrounding communities are built to last.   We aren’t perfect, no community is, and we should always be looking for ways to get better.  But our ability to come together when necessary, neighbor helping neighbor, supporting those most important to us should give us all a sense of pride and confidence we can build on.   The Chamber’s role of providing support, resources, and facilitating opportunities for our members and the community is never more important than it is today.  Just as our business community finds ways to adapt through this current situation, so to will your Chamber of Commerce. 

As our business community continues to put up their “Open” signs and move forward despite the challenges of the last 12 months, our community continues to make progress on some key projects.  The restoration project at the State Capitol Complex continues to be on target for a 2021 completion.  The construction of the bridge to Adrian’s Island is on track to begin later this summer.  The Heartland Port Authority land transfer was completed in May, allowing for the next step of the Port to move forward.  And finally, the development of a Conference Center and Hotel on the MSP property took a huge step forward last week with the selection of a developer

Whether it is a cup of coffee, a haircut or a new car, each purchase we make locally helps us regain our confidence, move our community forward and send the message “We’re Open”! 

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