Come Together…

January 8, 2023Doug Peters, President & CEO of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce

Nothing like a classic Beatles song title to get our Monday started. Good luck getting that out of your head the rest of the day.

I want to focus my words this morning on an issue that’s been keeping me up at night. The issue is the state of business…and while things may appear challenging at the local level, I can attest that Abilene, Texas, is far better off than the reports I’m getting from my peers across the nation.

But – faring better than others is hardly the basis of a good night’s sleep. Let’s be thankful to be in Abilene, but as this article implies, it’s time to come together.

Let me explain a little further.

Now, more than ever, is the time to support our friends and neighbors in business. Buy local. Shop local. Eat local. Drink local. Let’s all do whatever we can to help where we can.

Abilene is extremely well positioned with a diverse economy and people with the grit and determination to get things done. The fact that we are not single-industry dependent is the product of a conscious decision made decades ago to ensure that no matter what’s thrown at us, we will not only survive, but thrive.

But in a role like mine, I only know what my circle of influence shares with me. And I’ve committed myself to listening more than talking lately. Over recent months, I’ve done a ton of listening. I’m grateful for every single member who has afforded me the time to understand what keeps them up at night, and I’m committed to ensuring your Chamber does everything reasonable and necessary to keep our economy strong in what must be some of the most trying economic times I can remember. Heck. We’re not too proud to do even unreasonable things if they will help.

For us, we believe in the power of bringing together and leveraging our business community to create a brain trust of folks that can help come up with solutions. We’ll be doing that soon with our food and beverage operators. And while we don’t think we’ll be able to solve every problem, we believe there must be a way to work together for the individual and collective betterment of our local economy. Who better than our local business owners to help us formulate action than those experts who live it every single day?

Trying to forecast the road ahead is like trying to watch one sock spin around in a crowded clothes dryer. It’s a mind-numbing proposition because there are so many variables outside of local control. However, one thing I have learned from being surrounded by some of the most astute business leaders on Planet Earth is that if we can’t fix things in Abilene, Texas – they likely can’t be fixed.

If you have the time, I’d love to know what keeps you up at night. Confidentially. And to work together with you to formulate whatever action we can to help.  That’s what your Chamber is for. We’re a convener of people. Call me or text me at 325-280-8856 or email at doug@abilenechamber.com. As the self-proclaimed business community’s chief optimist and cheerleader, I’m telling you, we’re here to help. Especially now.

Trying to get a handle on what the path ahead looks like is, again, tough. But I want you to join me on January 19 as we conduct our annual Big Country Economic Outlook sponsored by FirstBank & Trust, to be held over lunch at ACU’s Hunter Welcome Center. It’ll be much-improved over last year, thanks to your thoughtful feedback.

There, we’ll take all the important lessons we learned last year and host an event that I’m certain will help to provide clarity for all of us.

I don’t know if you’ve heard of Dr. Ray Perryman, but Ray is with the Waco-based The Perryman Group and one of the most renowned economists in the United States. Thanks to our friends at Big Country Title, we’ve invited Ray to join us on the 19th to share what he is seeing, what the numbers are telling him, and what we as West Texans can expect through 2023 so that we can best prepare.

Texas Monthly calls Ray “the most quoted man in Texas.” Business Week recognizes Ray as a “World Class Scholar.” The New York Times has called Ray “the unofficial state economist” and perhaps most importantly, the Dallas Morning News has labeled Ray “the state’s pre-eminent economist and a barbecue connoisseur.” You know he has to be good.

I want to thank our emcee for the event, Doug McIntyre (Hardin-Simmons University) and panelists that will join Doug in a roundtable discussion about our local economy including Bill Dean, Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas; Nathan Lowry, Big Country Title; Jason Modglin; and Weston Johnson, FirstBank & Trust.

We’re thrilled to have Ray Perryman with us, and I know you’ll benefit from his presentation. Please join us.

Finally, and I know you expect to hear this from me, but we really are lucky to be in Abilene, Texas. No matter how turbulent the air we fly along in is, we are all in it together. Do take the time to reach out to me or any member of our team to share your perspective on current and expected conditions for your business. We can do this. Together. It’s what we do.




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