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Cleared for Takeoff

January 4, 2021Doug Peters, President & CEO of the Abilene Chamber

The final months of a normal year in the Chamber business are plenty busy. Planning, forecasting, collecting input and feedback – there’s never a shortage of things to do.

But in the weirdest year ever recorded, it’s been especially so.

Why?

Toss in the preparation for a Legislative Session, especially when no one knows what that Session will look like, and it complicates things.

My hat’s off to the members of the Chamber’s Business Advocacy Council (BAC), a redux of its predecessor Government Affairs Committee. These folks work really hard to forecast what lies ahead for business – both good and not-so-good – at all levels of government. They research, they discuss, they interpret policy, and they prepare.  And prepare they did for the 87th Session of the Texas Legislature.

I also want to thank the Chamber’s Executive Committee, led by Board Chairman Marshall Morris (First Financial Bank) for their unanimous adoption of this Session’s Legislative Agenda.

The Chamber’s Legislative Agenda is both general and specific. You can take a look at the categories we will be monitoring and acting on HERE.

So what exactly goes into the creation of a Legislative Agenda? Well, when you’re the oldest and most active association for business in the region, the responsibility for advocating on behalf of our members is taken seriously. Whether it’s working with local and state governments to keep our economy open and our economy alive or understanding the stresses of our healthcare system and their ability to care for our loved ones, we’re alert and active. It takes a lot of listening – like a ton of listening.

And when your friends and neighbors are a part of the largest economic contributor in the region, you work closely with our elected officials on the federal level to preserve and grow all things Dyess Air Force Base.

Our approach is unique. You won’t find me or anyone else from the BAC standing before an elected body and pounding our fists, demanding action. Instead, our approach to advocacy is gracious yet persistent. We prefer relationships with government – that go both ways – as a means to support our members.

And when you toss in the collective voice of more than 1,300 businesses and 2,200 active members overall, folks tend to listen. One unified voice on behalf of around 55,000 employees among our members. That’s a lot of voters.

That’s one of the things that made this pandemic especially difficult. We no doubt fought for the interests of all of our members, but no matter how hard we tried, we just couldn’t find a way to be everything to everyone. We had to take the long view – and position your chief advocacy organization to look out for the interests of the membership in sum. I’ve never reflected on a mission statement more in my career than I have the Chamber’s in the last year.

What makes that even harder is watching some of those who support our work suffer.

One of our volunteer officers said it best: “It’s like watching your neighbor’s house burn down while you’re sitting on the porch drinking coffee.” There’s just no way. Not on our watch.

You’ll see a lot of communication (and likely the customary survey or two) coming at you during the Session. We want to know your thoughts and the impact proposed legislation will have on you and your enterprise. And, in return, we will proactively work with our elected officials to find a balance that protects your interests while helping them to achieve their objective.

Have a special need? You can reach out to the BAC at any time and for any reason. There’s a form HERE that you can use to submit your question/challenge/concern. And through that form, you’re certain to have your needs addressed as we continue the tradition of serving as the chief business advocacy organization in the Big Country.

Want to talk about a challenge or concern? By now you know I’m always on duty and welcome the opportunity to communicate with you. I’m an email (doug@abilenechamber.com), phone call (cell: 325-280-8856) or text message away.

And no doubt you know our director of government affairs, Doug Williamson. Talk about communication. Not only is he one of the smartest people I know, he’s a tenacious communicator. He’s always listening, too.

So here we are, in a new year, with lots of work to do both in recovery and in proactively helping position our great community to win. Your continued support makes a tremendous difference – and I want you to know that support is never taken for granted. We may not always get it right the first time, but I can guarantee you won’t see us stop trying.

Here’s to a better 2021 for all of us.

Onward!

Doug

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