The Mother of All Surveys and Then Some…

October 28, 2019Doug Peters, President and CEO of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce

One look at this headline and your mind automatically goes to the United States Census, doesn’t it?

While the Census, coming next year, is hugely important for every community in America (more about that in a future article), the survey I’m specifically referring to is local.

With local impact on our future as a community. Implications on your workforce – now and future. And a means to identify how to position our great city for goodness and prosperity for all of us. Our economy. Jobs. Investment. Wealth creation. Art. Culture. Tourism. Reversal of suburban flight. Thriving and impactful schools. A means to carve out our rightful place as the envy of our great state.

Enter ThriveABI.”

You may have heard of it. ThriveABI is the second phase of an initiative started by the Chamber’s Immediate-past Chair Seaton Higginbotham (Arrow Ford), and has been harked and heralded everywhere for the last 15 months. Remember Seaton’s “Collective Impact” sermon? Well, church is out, and the congregation is headed out to work. Keep reading.

Here’s what it’s all about – from the Chamber’s perspective.

When a community casts a vision of what it wants to be, it has a clearer and smoother pathway of getting there. We’re a community of caring people and any of us would be hard-pressed to find a business leader inside the Chamber organization who isn’t involved in another non-profit, somewhere in our city, trying to help where they can. That’s what your 111-year old Chamber of Commerce is – a collection of businesses working hard every day through the leadership of our investors to create a vibrant and thriving economy where businesses flourish, employees and their families benefit, and we continue to build on the values that make us uniquely West Texas.

No one wants a vastly different Abilene. We love this place, or we wouldn’t be here contributing mightily in every way we can to make it the best it can be, right?

The intent of ThriveABI is to collect and interpret the vital signs of our community, to cast a vision for all of us to support over the long-term to improve our economic competitiveness and to positively impact every citizen who calls our city “home.”  After all, as I’ve said more than once, “if you’re lucky enough to be in Abilene, Texas, you’re lucky enough.”

One thing I’ve learned in my short time in Abilene: the people of this special place like to win. And to win, we all need to be on the same team. All of us.

Valued member, we’re at a tipping point in our great city. Despite the gobs (technical term) of awesomeness that lives here, is we can always be better. And we can work better together. But to do that, we need to identify and agree – collectively – on what matters. What are the issues that we need to measure, over time, to make sure we’re building the best Abilene we can be? Our competition for jobs and capital investment are beginning to look inward to make improvements to the product they’re selling. You can’t grow a city without a holistic approach. If we want to compete, we need to compete.

I’m grateful for organizations like the Community Foundation of Abilene, who have unapologetically stepped in to lead the data collection and measurement component of this continuous improvement process for Abilene known as ThriveABI. And, as you might suspect, your help is critical in order to make sure the vision is appropriately cast – and that your voice in the process is heard. In fact, it goes beyond you as a business leader. This process reaches into the depths of our community; every neighborhood, every place of worship, every business and each of the associates they employ – have a role to play.

And get this: it is NOT a heavy lift. In fact, the thoughtful folks who are representing all of those “worlds,” as Seaton called them, have made this super simple. There’s a short survey to get base data and followed by a variety of public forums in convenient places where that data will be discussed among the people who attend. We need your help on the survey and in encouraging those in your employ to do the same. Then show up for a couple of hours at your choice of public forums where we’ll do a deeper dive on the data that’s been collected.

I took the survey. It took me five minutes. I hope you’ll follow this link, complete the survey and encourage your associates and family members to do the same. The deadline for survey completion is November 4.

Then, block some time to participate on November 18 from 6:30-8:30 PM at the Abilene Convention Center and send your people. All of them. From top to bottom. The effort looks to collect the perspective of everyone, not just those at the top of the economic scale.

You hear it all the time: Abilene is in the midst of a Renaissance. That Renaissance absolutely requires the input of every member of our community to ensure we cast a vision that benefits you, your business and our economy for the long-haul. If we want folks to participate in (and not complain about) the Renaissance, they need to be at the table.

Join us, please. This one matters. The outcomes from these exercises will give us the baseline data needed to ensure we’re all pulling on the same end of the rope. Efficiently. Over time. For the benefit of all of us.

Successful communities require everyone to be on the same end of the rope. Pulling in the same direction. Can you imagine the impact?




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