Taking over the highly visible advocacy wing of the Chamber, I am fully aware of the important accomplishments of my esteemed predecessors. The advocacy division will continue to be a presence at city and county meetings. Our elected officials will know we are paying attention, listening, and in the public sphere to promote business interests. The lack of local journalism oversight only heightens our role.
It is also imperative to educate, gently nudge those elected officials on how the business environment runs beyond, zoning, signage, and parking issues. Quality of life issues plays a crucial role. Labor has more mobility than it has any lifetime. We will need to promote more housing, apartments, condominiums, single-family homes, and yes even student housing. The abundance of options will only have a positive effect on all those searching for places to live.
On a similar level, we will provide those officials with cover on tough and unpopular decisions. Let those in power know they are doing an excellent job. The Chamber’s role to do right by the community. We saw this in full on the homeless in the seminary square controversy. It was not a popular position to take but it was a necessary one.
Next, one matter is clear, we speak for business but oftentimes businesses cannot speak in one voice. The greater good may not be self-evident. On these occasions, we must be content to stay on the sidelines. Conversely, the Chamber must use its limited capital even on the less-heralded issues. This includes transparency, sound, efficient government. An example of this is the recent Novak report from the Mayor’s Office that attempts to streamline the forty-nine city boards and commissions.
At the State level, we have been using that limited capital wisely. We cannot combat every misguided bill that enters those storied halls. What we can do is galvanize against legislation that puts our community at an economic disadvantage such as HB1002. Finally, I want to encourage dialog with members on issues important to them.