All Systems Go!
As you might’ve picked up in last week’s blog post, the Chamber is gearing up to do a better job of telling its story. What we do, how we do it, and why it matters.
In that article, I shared some history of the organization and a few of its notable achievements and a few of the notable names behind them over the last century or so.
Since I wrote that article, I’ve gained more perspective – and I’m excited to share it with you.
In the last week or two, I’ve experienced first-hand the profound commitment to public/private partnership (aka P3) that has driven this community since names like Legett and Sayles were actively involved.
Two weeks ago today, Abilene and the Big Country gained a new champion. Misty Mayo, her husband, Ted, and their two youngsters now call Abilene home. That’s a big deal.
Misty, if you haven’t heard, is a new partner in the storied Abilene P3. After working in economic development in San Antonio, Texas, and most recently in Boerne, Texas, I was happy to welcome Misty to the team. She’s accomplished and knows her stuff.
As the new CEO of the Development Corporation of Abilene (DCOA), Misty will no doubt impact this community in a profound way. She’s energetic, insightful, and asks a lot of the right questions. She gets it. Our development pedigrees are aligned – almost eerily aligned. Since she hit the ground (running, mind you) I’ve had numerous conversations with her. Each one more energizing than the last. She’s the real deal.
I want to thank the DCOA’s CEO Search Committee, led by Paul Cannon (McMahon Surovik Suttle Law Firm) for the tremendous job they did in finding the right executive to lead the DCOA. They nailed it. I have no idea who else was considered for the role, but I can vouch for their choice. And it hasn’t taken long to get there.
And so begins the story of what lies ahead.
The Abilene Industrial Foundation (AIF) and the Chamber’s Military Affairs Committee (MAC) are both contract partners with the DCOA. In fact, the DCOA does more to elevate economic development and the creation of jobs and capital investment than most Abilenians probably realize. And they do that by relying on their private sector partners to help them do the things that create a better Abilene for all of us.
Take the AIF for instance. Somewhere near 60 years old, the AIF is the community’s industrial sales, marketing, recruitment and retention arm. Funded privately by its members, in-part, the AIF has the responsibility of not only telling the story, but of establishing and nurturing the relationships with site selection and corporate site decision-makers worldwide. And that role in the partnership will gain further alignment and accountability as a partner under Misty’s leadership. As the president of the Abilene Industrial Foundation, I welcome it.
Same goes for MAC. The MAC has been around for an eternity, too. In fact, MAC is principally responsible for Dyess Air Force Base being here as the single-largest contributor to our regional economy. Today, MAC’s role is to preserve and expand the mission at Dyess, and its economic impact on our great city.
Those responsibilities won’t end. They will, however, continue to improve. Through a careful review and an alignment of all the parties, I have little doubt – make that no doubt – that Abilene, Texas’ economic development efforts are better positioned today than perhaps they have been for a really long time.
But the DCOA and its Chamber partners aren’t the only partners in the partnership. Not by a longshot. The City of Abilene is a player, too – and a big one. And I can say unequivocally that under the leadership of City Manager Robert Hanna, the absolute horsepower among all these partners has likely never been greater.
And so that compels me to share this final point.
Economic development is the responsibility of every person who calls Abilene home. It falls to every visitor who spends a dollar here, many of whom are lured here by our Convention & Visitors Bureau and its partners. It’s incumbent on those who add to the livability and quality of place like the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council, the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature (NCCIL) and others and those who work together to attract and retain tomorrow’s workforce, like the Chamber’s Young Professionals and our Abilene Downtown Initiative.
And when the leadership that’s been tapped to drive the community’s hustle is as strong and as committed as it is today, I can’t imagine the successes that lie ahead. We’ll have good days and bad days, challenges and opportunities. We won’t always agree, but we’ll agree to disagree and get on with it for the sake of the community.
When you see those who are working to help make the community and it’s development efforts all they can be, do take a moment to encourage them. Tell our City Manager “Thank you” – he has one of the toughest jobs on the planet – and let Misty know that you, too are glad she chose Abilene as a place to invest her own family’s future. Encouraging words go a long way. Help us to tell the story. Root for the home team. Proudly champion this great place and the effort to make it better. It matters.