I’m just about to complete one of the most exciting years of my life due to being the chairman at the Abilene Chamber of Commerce. The honor bestowed on me has been a humbling one. I could spend most of my time in this farewell article talking about the great leadership of your executive committee, your board or the herculean work by staff that runs full steam 24/7. But, most of you know that already. It has been my privilege to work alongside these men and women for these last few years, especially during my term as chairman.
Rather than reflecting on this past year, I want to take the time to talk about the future and issue you a challenge in this Age of Acceleration we live in. On January 1, 2020, we will start the third decade of the 21st century. I have lived in our community for six decades, and I have been an active participant in four of them. I believe that this next decade will be the greatest decade I have ever experienced. You would have to go back to the 40’s and 50’s before you could possibly see a decade as great as the one we are about to embark upon.
Take a minute to think about what the streets of downtown will look like in the third decade of the 21st century. A welcoming festival district where we will “work, live and play” with our fellow Abilenians, and where at the turn of any corner you might see the storybook character of your childhood. Then turning south through a magical tunnel, you will experience the diverse and a little edgy SoDA District.
Take a second to look at our commitment to education and the new Career Technology Center (CTE). Can you envision how it will work not only in-conjunction with our Universities, but with Texas State Technical College (TSTC) and Cisco College to provide the options needed to ensure dignity and prosperity for all of our students?
I envision a paradigm shift occurring in our nonprofit world as well. Everywhere you look you will see the effort moving from a handout to a hand up.
Look to the skies above. Can you envision the future B-21 Raider, the B-1 and the C-130 J’s flying? Can you feel the pride of our country? The pride of Abilene?
There are so many great things going on and even more to come.
But, just like any City, we have problems and they’re big ones – poverty, crime, mental health and housing. However, they’re not too big for a community with our heart, our passion and our willingness to work together to make a collective impact. There is a swell of synergy in our city and it’s coming from our everyday citizen. They are the heart of our community, and they are asking to be engaged and to be a bigger part of Abilene. As we reach out and connect with everyone, we will provide all of us with the leadership we need and together we will be able to solve those big social problems that confront us before they overwhelm us.
So many times we catch ourselves just going through the motions and not really living in the moment. The minutes, hours and days pass by and are lost forever.
My challenge to you, is for you to engage and to be an active participant in Abilene’s Renaissance during the third decade of the 21st century. My hope for you is that on December 31, 2030 you will look back and say, “I was part of the greatest decade in Abilene’s history. I made hundreds of new friends and together we made an impact and created not only a foundation but a way of life that will serve all of Abilene.”