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President's Message

May 2020

From the Business Perspective Newsletter

We will prosper again

My grandparents went broke twice, in the Dust Bowl, and during the Depression.

They rarely, if ever talked about it, at least not with me. Once I knew, I understood how these experiences shaped the young couple who went on to raise six children, and the influences that trickled down to me from my father.  In my family we never threw anything away without considering how it might be used again, and yet again. We were “repurposing” before it was trendy, reflecting my father’s childhood when families did this out of necessity rather than choice.

As I look forward to our businesses beginning phased reopening and our lives find a reset button, it’s caused me to think more about my grandparents, wishing I could talk to them for perspective. There were several “resets” in Grandad’s 93 years, and I wish I could ask him the questions now that I didn’t before. There’s much more I should have learned from him.

Since mid-March your Chamber team has had three priorities: curate the best resources and get them to you quickly; contact each of our members to see how you are and what you need; and advocate for you passionately at the local, state and federal levels. This past month, we’ve added a fourth priority – working on plans to safely open business.

If existing trends continue, in May we’ll begin moving into Phase 1 of re-opening business in Johnson County and throughout Kansas. I had the opportunity to represent the County’s business community on Johnson County’s Recovery Plan Task Force which was charged with developing a plan to responsibly remove the Stay at Home Order while continuing to protect our community’s health and safety.

If there’s a silver lining to this trying time it’s that our team has had the opportunity to connect with so many of you. In addition to hundreds of emails and social media contacts, there have been countless meaningful email threads, phone and Zoom conversations. From just checking in, to assisting those needing resources or connections, to so many of you reaching out with offers to help others. Like many of you, I’m weary of my home office/kitchen table atmosphere. But that disappears when I’m energized by a call or email with one of you. You are resilient and up to the tasks ahead.

Despite the complexity of the challenges facing us each day when we wake up, our Chamber’s vision is to make Overland Park – and you -  prosper. And we will prosper again. It will take time, and we will do it in phases, because all of you have told us the safety of your employees and our community is your priority.

As we begin to come back to our businesses, it won’t be normal. I may see you more on Zoom than in person. We may wear masks or stand 6 feet apart, but I know this experience has bound us together to support each other and rebuild our community, even as it separated us physically. #WhyWeOPChamber


Continue Reading the May 2020 Newsletter

Tracey Osborne Oltjen

written by

Tracey Osborne Oltjen, CCE, IOM

President & CEO

"Sometimes you never realize the value of a moment until it becomes a memory."

- Dr. Seuss