Resolved For Positive Things In 2015

The coming year is a significant benchmark for the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce as it celebrates its 100th year of operation. The Chamber’s been blessed over the decades by the many pioneers of business who took on major roles in the organization – and continue to do so today. It was their work, aggregated through the Chamber’s mission to grow business and build community, that led the region to its place of prominence today.

In that spirit, here’s a handful of “to do” topics for the coming year that can propel the region to even better things in the Chamber’s second century. Let’s:

• Resolve to raise the level of community discourse. Too many issues in 2014 inflamed emotions and generated hurtful dialogue both toward and from our elected and appointed community leaders. There’s nothing wrong with strong feelings, but too often our community debates have devolved into angry exchanges that fester into long-term distrust and doubt. Let’s put forward our best arguments, live with (and evaluate) the results and move on to the next issue.

• Resolve to make measurable progress on the mix of quality, affordable and available housing for the region’s workforce. It will take a collective private-public effort, the likes of which have not been seen since the population boom of the 1980s and ‘90s. It won’t be easy and not all folks will get rich – and it may require flexibility regarding zoning, permit fees and other government red tape in the process. But, as the flip side to workforce availability, there’s no single issue that promises more upside to regional investment.

• Resolve to expand and enhance our region’s workforce. The lack of skilled workers for available jobs and trades threatens our area’s economic growth and also keeps the local economy from operating at capacity. Let’s make sure our high schools, vocational education centers and community colleges are ahead of the curve in workforce development and have the resources necessary to stay on top of an ever-changing job market. And employers, be creative in how you recruit, train and compensate potential workers – we’ll help!

• Commit to maintaining and strengthening our community’s infrastructure and environment. Be it roads, schools, energy, water and sewer, broadband, public transit, etc., the region won’t continue to be a worldwide destination if we fail to keep up its infrastructure while protecting its world-class natural resources.

• Resolve to get more involved with the Chamber. Take part in a special observance of our 100th anniversary at this month’s Annual Celebration (January 23) to better appreciate our deep history. Nominate your favorite small business for our Small Business Celebration this spring. Enhance your operation by taking advantage of leadership development opportunities such as the Chamber’s Young Professionals and Leadership Grand Traverse programs among others. Fight with us for public policy that enables job creators to grow their businesses. Get more involved with other members of the business community and you’ll learn there’s a lot of knowledge and resources available beyond your four walls.

This list could go on and on. But if the area can make some headway on these issues in 2015, there’s little question it will continue to play a significant role in Michigan’s economic recovery. And it will be a great way to kick off the Chamber’s second hundred years. Cheers!

Doug Luciani is President/CEO of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce. Contact him by email at luciani@tcchamber.org.

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