Green Lights and Sunny Skies

January 15, 2024Doug Peters, President & CEO of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce

Are you ready for another year of building your dream? I hope so – because your Chamber is ready to do all we can to help.

Last week, the US Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual State of American Business, a look at the conditions under which you and businesses around the country operate.

I sat in on the presentation, and truthfully, I was inspired. Let me tell you why.

Suzanne Clark, CEO of the US Chamber, started the program by exclaiming that the State of American Business is – Optimistic.

It’s easy sometimes to not see or feel the optimism. When headlines constantly tell us that the US is in the toilet, sometimes we begin to believe it.

We can’t do that. I agree with my friend Suzanne. We have every reason to believe that 2024 can and will be your best year ever as a business owner or operator.

Yes, it’s an election year. And a presidential election year to boot. Presidential election years tend to discombobulate things – if we let them.

Yes, there’s a lot of mixed messaging about the economy. And interest rates. And workforce. And supply chain. And cost of living. And other things that impact our collective ability to achieve success.

But you know what? We have an advantage that exists right here at home that many others around the world don’t have. We’re still Americans. And that still means something. Don’t forget that. The US Chamber was right when they reminded me last week that we serve customers, solve problems, and strengthen society. After all, that’s why we all do what we do.

One of the presenters included in the US Chamber’s program was Microsoft Vice Chair and president Brad Smith. One of Smith’s themes in his remarks was centered on the fundamental ability of Americans to create and add value. He went on to use on of my favorite analogies – the famous three legged stool.

Smith described it this way. The stool has three legs – the private sector; government, or the public sector; and third leg is the non-profit sector. One thing the three have in common is that they all need money to get things done.” Smith expressed frustration that sometimes, American businesses are sometimes accused of just being in it for the money. Governments can tax for money. Non-profits can ask for donations.  Businesses need money and don’t have those options. He’s right. Businesses have to sing for their supper every day.

Businesses must create something useful for the world that brings value to a customer. In our collective ways, we all focus on making our community, our country and the world a better place for all of us. Great societies focus on the synergy of those three legs, together, and not focusing on what sets us apart, but how we harness the synergy of these three legs and make us appreciate how we all help each other.

I’m not sure if Brad Smith knows it or not, but he just described Abilene, Texas. And the Abilene Chamber of Commerce.

So, what does this all mean?

It means that we must all work together – and knowing how to work together well requires us all to be informed. We can approach 2024 one of two ways – focusing on the problematic issues that are constantly thrown our way or armed with information to help us navigate and ultimately win as employers and as a community.

Your opportunity to assemble the information you need is right around the corner. The Chamber’s 2024 Economic Outlook will be held on Thursday, Jan. 25th at Abilene Christian University Hunter Welcome Center. Sponsored by FirstBank & Trust, the event will feature Dr. Ray Perryman brought to you by Big Country Title. Dr. Perryman will discuss key trends impacting the economy and his latest projections for Texas and the Abilene area. After Dr. Perryman’s presentation, we’ll bring it home locally with panelists from FirstBank & Trust and Big Country Title to share from a local perspective what we can anticipate the year to look like.

Additionally, the Chamber’s Abilene Regional Growth Alliance will share more about the Community Performance Index and other tools available to help the business community navigate the year.

Special thanks to Raymond James – Erik Presley, Abilene Christian University, and all that have already made plans to join us. If you haven’t grabbed your spot, reach out to our team today.

While the Abilene Chamber and the US Chamber don’t always agree, we can agree on this – like the US Chamber, your Abilene Chamber advocates for policies that are pro-growth. A faster growing economy generates more tax revenues to pay for education, defense, transit and infrastructure and provide communities a social safety net.  It puts more money in people’s pockets so they can care for their families and pursue their goals.

There are economic and regulatory headwinds, but as the US Chamber reminded us last week, the state of American Business is optimistic. The diversity of the US ecosystem is the most innovative, dynamic, and resilient in the world.  And that, too, stands true for our great city and region.

See you on January 25.




The Abilene Chamber of Commerce is a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and is not affiliated with the organization. 


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