2018's Top 3, Plus 1
Published: Monday, December 24, 2018 8:00 am
By: Bill Plank
It’s hard to believe 2018 is coming to a close. The year has been dynamic to say the least with an outstanding amount of activity. Throughout the year, I’ve answered the same question countless times: “Anything new going on at the chamber?” The answer is always an emphatic, “YES!” In our current news cycle, we’ve become conditioned to only pay attention to what happened in the past day or two. However, the chamber is in it for the long haul and tackling some really big issues in our community. One can’t pick up a publication without getting a “Year’s Best” list at the end of the year, so I’ll give you my top takeaways from 2018. Some of these are accomplishments, but many are ongoing projects where the community needs your help.
1.) The Port
Thanks to years of work and visioning by current staff and former leadership, the chamber facilitated the formation of a Central Missouri Port Authority. This was done by bringing together the Counties of Cole and Callaway along with the City of Jefferson. Chamber staff (primarily Randy Allen and Missy Bonnot) dedicated many hours to not only meeting with the appropriate officials but also doing the hard work behind the scenes to coordinate a feasibility study, talk to local business leaders, and capture the vision. As this process progressed, I was extremely impressed with how our reach expanded to Callaway County, specifically with the help of Commissioner Roger Fischer. Once again, our chamber has done a fantastic job of looking out for the entire region, even north of the river!
2.) Project Retail
Consumer spending is an important bellwether in any community and Jefferson City is no different. Retail shopping is a rapidly changing market segment of which we, as a community, needed a better grasp. Dozens of chamber members have done great work assessing, evaluating and forming an action plan for retail revitalization. Nathan Hays led a group to work on helping local businesses better tell their story (Look for some great branding materials in 2019 to bring attention to many great businesses). Holly Nunn led a group to work on identifying retail needs in our community. The crux of this was a survey that showed we have a good representation of retail but there are some specialty stores we lack. Seeing a large desire from the general public for recognizable franchise brands, that group hosted a Franchise Fair at the 2018 Business and Lifestyles Expo and has gathered great material.