A message from Chamber President and CEO on Governor Abbott’s reopening of Texas Businesses

April 28, 2020Doug Peters, President and CEO of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce

Dear Chamber member and members of the Abilene business community:

Yesterday, we all watched, listened to, or read about Governor Greg Abbott’s plan to reopen the Texas economy. While as the chief advocate for your business we had hoped for further loosening, our experiences in talking face-to-face, by telephone, and text messaging with our healthcare leaders helped to substantiate the “let’s take it slow” approach determined by the Governor. Although not completely satisfied, we are understanding. But, it’s time to get back to work.

In my own simple-minded thinking, we’re still making lemonade, but we’ve finally been given some decent lemons to work with. Many of us have had our feet on the throttle and working long and hard to do what we do through this entire crisis ordeal, your Chamber included. Undoubtedly, those of us who’ve not had the ability to work will see some improvement, but certainly not all. Your Chamber won’t be satisfied until we are fully operational. To get there, we need to be mindful of a few things.

A successful reopening of businesses across Texas and right here at home will require doing it right to subvert any potential setback, the patience (which, understandably we don’t have a lot of anymore) and the commitment to earn the confidence of those who still believe the risk is too high to return to a limited sense of normalcy, including our customers and our employees.

No one wants us to get back to commerce any quicker than I do. I’ve watched and painfully listened to many (many) risk takers and business leaders who’ve had to navigate through a dark place they’ve never been before. And, likely never thought they’d ever experience.

But we can and will do this. And we will do it well.

I have absolute respect for our healthcare leaders who, on one hand act from an abundance of caution. After all, they’re in the business in preserving lives. We all must respect that and do what we can to listen. Otherwise, if we see COVID-related cases begin to rise, we could end up right back where we started so many weeks ago. We don’t want that and certainly we don’t need that.

There will be an element of our population – our friends, neighbors and associates – who justifiably remain concerned about returning too soon. We must do all we can to ease their fear and, at the same time reassure those with whom we do business that we’re doing it right, with caution and within the recommended guidelines.

If you haven’t already, please visit www.businessresourceabilene.com, join the #WorkSafeABI effort and take the pledge to become a COVID-19 Business Compliant Partner.  We’ve been overwhelmed by the number of businesses who’ve signed onto this local effort, spearheaded by your Chamber. It’s free, it’s super simple, and it’s a pledge to do it right in order to make it work.

Once you’ve taken the pledge, post the Compliant Business Partner logo on your online and social media sources. Print the logo out on a sheet of paper and affix it to your door. That will help to ease the concerns by your apprehensive customers, and the pledge itself will guide you in your decisions and reassure to your employees that you’ve done all you can do to minimize health risks among your workforce.

In the coming days and weeks, the Chamber will begin to once again heavily promote doing business with Chamber members, and specifically for consumers to “look for the pledge.”

At the same time, your Chamber will continue to serve as your primary point for timely, accurate and relevant information that you need to make the decisions about how to operate.  As your business advocacy organization, the Chamber remains on-duty, prepared and motivated to lead the way through recovery.  We will monitor updates and deliver to you each day the news you need to know to continue to operate safely and efficiently, while at the same time ramping up our “shop Chamber members first” mantra.  You can count on your Chamber to be there, one step ahead or at worst right beside you to ensure you have every resource available to help you out of this situation.

Finally, I’d like to end simply by reminding you that we are Abilene. We do things right and we get things done. While recent weeks have been overwhelming for most of us, there is hope and there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Let’s all walk toward that light, together, and set the example of what strong communities do when met with troubling and difficult situations.

Your Chamber is here for you, just we have been for the last 112 years.

Onward!

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