01/12/08 — Renewed energy: Chamber reaffirms commitment to leadership

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Renewed energy: Chamber reaffirms commitment to leadership

This is not your grandfather’s Wayne County Chamber of Commerce.

Unless, of course, his chamber was one that was not afraid to stand up for what’s right and what’s necessary even when it wasn’t easy to do so — and was ready to take a leadership role to make sure the decision to take action on a particular issue ended up being more than just talk.

That’s the message that incoming chairman Geoff Hulse told the hundreds of people who gathered at Thursday’s annual banquet.

He has promised that the chamber is going to be more visible, more vocal and more intent on doing the hard work necessary to get the pieces in place to make this community better — and not just as those pieces apply to job creation.

He and his fellow chamber volunteers and staff want to help get the infrastructure in place that will make Wayne County stronger in every way, not just with bricks and mortar, but with meeting the needs of the families who live here now and will be here in the future.

And first on the list is education.

And that is what Hulse addressed — without mincing words — Thursday.

He challenged all those present — business and community leaders — to get involved, to be the catalysts for change rather than sitting back and critiquing from afar. He called for an end to political divisions and for more talk, more cooperation and more focus on the overall goal rather than who is right and who is wrong.

He challenged his peers to be a part of the future and not to miss their chance to leave their mark.

And he connected — heads nodded and hands clapped.

Now, lest you think that the chamber of commerce has done nothing for the past decades of its existence, take heed. There have been hundreds of chamber volunteers, board members and staff through the years who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes and in full view. There are many initiatives that have become accomplished projects in the last few years that were the brainchildren of chamber members.

And, of course, the continued growth this community has experienced has also been a byproduct of the many businessmen and women who have worked so hard to create their own success stories and to help others with theirs.

This might not be the same chamber many members of this community grew up with, but it is certainly a different breed of the same dedication and commitment that marks those who have gathered together for generations to make a difference.

It is exciting to see so much energy and so much determination to make sure there are as many voices and oars as possible pulling together to make Wayne County a better place to live.

The chamber’s leadership has set a new direction and energy for others to follow — much in the same way that local business leaders gathered their resources to facilitate a reopening of talks on the school facilities debate.

Now, all the rest of us have to do is find a boat to jump into and start paddling.

Who knows what sort of miracles we can bring about if we are willing to have the tough discussions, fight the tough fights and join forces to change this community for the better.

Published in Editorials on January 12, 2008 11:48 PM