Psssst….did you know…?
One of the most rewarding and meaningful functions I get to participate in is the welcoming of a new class of Chamber members. Just about once each quarter, we acclimate our newest investors into all the work the Chamber does on behalf of our business community.
In those sessions, I share about our history, our mission, our structure, and I talk about what the Abilene Chamber of Commerce is at its very core: an association of business, focused on business advocacy, with value-added benefits for those businesses who support the effort.
Last week, I shared some of the Chamber’s history as presented by community historian Jay Moore back in September. If you didn’t get a chance to read it, I encourage you to do so.
But this week, as we begin early voting in Abilene and Taylor County, I want to dig a little deeper on the advocacy piece.
What exactly is business advocacy?
To your Chamber, it’s about establishing and maintaining mutually beneficial working relationships with our elected and appointed officials at all levels of government.
That means that we work alongside our government partners to advance the interests of business, all in an effort to ensure a stable, pro-business environment that can add jobs, entice private capital investment, and contribute to the livability of our area.
Competition for jobs and capital investment is fierce among communities. We must always be at our best.
What you won’t see the Chamber doing is standing up in a public meeting, pounding our fists and using demands to bloody the nose of government. That’s why the relationships are key. In most cases, we’re able to help resolve concerns before they become problems.
Your Chamber is plugged in. While we are entirely independent of other organizations, we’ve gotten pretty good at partnerships. In fact, I learned early in my tenure in Abilene that our community is built on them. We are members of pro-business coalitions at the state and federal levels, within the oil and gas industry, agriculture, and more.
Internally, we interpret public policy and policy proposals and lay them over a board-approved, staff managed and volunteer-monitored agenda that is set each two years, ahead of the legislative session in Austin, to ensure the voice of business in the Abilene region is heard.
We also are extremely proud of our work with administrative staffs within government, which allows the Chamber to help resolve challenges that can impact individual businesses. We’re thankful to be in a community that is home to a pro-business government, and we will never take a pro-business environment for granted.
Is it always easy? Certainly not. Do we always agree? Of course not. But in the end, more times than not, we’re able to help influence the nuances of public policy on behalf of those businesses who don’t have the time, the expertise, or the resources to be heard.
The collective voice of 1,300 business members and the more than 60,000 potential voters among them is distinctive. How we manage that influence is a tremendous responsibility.
Today begins early voting right here at home. There’s a lot to consider as you make your way to the polls. Everything on the ballot has potential to impact business, whether intended or unintended. We encourage you to fully understand what you’re voting on and the potential impact on your business.
I’ll wrap this up by thanking you for your support and encourage you to not only get to the polls, but to encourage those around you to do the same.
It matters. Business matters. Jobs matter. Our great community matters.