Doug Peters, President & CEO of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce
I love this place.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: if we’re lucky enough to live and work in Abilene, Texas, we’re lucky enough!
When you combine good people with a can-do attitude, great things happen. And good things are happening in our great city. Everywhere.
Those good things aren’t accidental, either. There are a lot of people and organizations working together to make good things happen.
The private sector, through the Chamber and our Abilene Industrial Foundation (AIF), have been “at the table” for generations here in Abilene. And yes, I’m referring to you and those who came before us. In fact, it was our community’s deep commitment to a unified approach to progress that brought me to this great place. Made up of businessmen and women who, through a combined spirit to help our city succeed, put up and show up to help Abilene to be the very best version of itself.
You probably recall a shift in focus in both the Chamber and its Industrial Foundation, dating back to 2016. It was then that both boards adopted an approach that focuses on workforce availability, small business support and downtown revitalization while ensuring value back to our growing membership.
And, although at its core the Chamber remains the chief business advocacy organization in the Big Country, the AIF has taken on the redevelopment of Abilene’s downtown as a partner to the City of Abilene; we’ve worked strategically to help create and sustain a “no wrong door” approach to small business assistance; to help impact the workforce needs you face each and every day; and to be a center for information, research and tracking of progress to ensure our community is firing on all cylinders.
Your Chamber is proud of the work undertaken today that helps provide opportunity for everyone in our community. Afterall, it all starts with jobs, and Abilene’s publicly funded effort is doing excellent work. Your Chamber will always cheer for the creation of opportunity for all of us.
But no one can do it all. We all have to help.
Founded 60 years ago this year, the AIF has its fingerprints on many efforts and projects that helped to position Abilene for good things.
And as all good and important things do, the AIF itself is evolving. It’s been fun and rewarding to be a small part of that evolution and to support those in positions of leadership who are committed to Abilene’s future. The vision and fortitude of those involved in today’s AIF is amazing. I assure you – good things lie ahead for this important function of your Chamber. As a means of alleviating confusion between our community’s public and private efforts, you can expect an update to the AIF brand in the coming months.
It’s an exciting time for the AIF, having broadened its work to include efforts that help to create a more “saleable” product. A better Abilene. A community that attracts people and families and others who will contribute to our workforce, our quality of life and our pathway forward.
The AIF will set a path that works cooperatively with others to help impact our workforce needs and to ensure childcare options in support of a growing workforce; advocating for appropriate long-term essential infrastructure related to broadband expansion, rail access and highway expansion; and working to help our airport expand flights in and out of our city.
The AIF will also continue to help drive downtown Abilene’s downtown in partnership with the City of Abilene and stakeholders by focusing on corridor redevelopment; proactively seeking local, regional, and national developers for investment in our downtown; and overhauling and relaunching the DowntownAbi.com website, a go-to source for those looking for a downtown experience or information on how to become an investor in the downtown.
That list of focused commitments goes on and on. Watch for updates here.
The other thing you’ve likely heard me say is that the Chamber, and its family of operating units, does all those things that most people think just happen.
And we’ll continue to do so in partnership with you, along with so many others.
Progress. How we approach progress as a community matters. Together, with your support, we’ll continue to help build a better Abilene, Texas.