From the Business Perspective Newsletter
What a year we’ve traveled through together. Over the past few weeks, we’ve noted milestones we never imagined when the Covid-19 pandemic began. There were remembrances for lives lost. Memories were shared of our collective experiences of remote life – learning to Zoom for work and school; sharing our bandwidth. For some, being on the front line took on a new level of meaning and we all became more grateful than ever for those in public safety, health care, restaurants, grocery, cleaning, transportation and so many others who kept us safe and supplied this past year. We’ve never given so much thought to what being “essential” meant until we had to define who really was essential to our daily lives and our economy.
Last March is a line of demarcation. I’ll never again take for granted meeting for lunch or shaking hands in greeting or looking around a room and seeing smiles without a mask covering them or gathering my family around my dining table for the holidays.
We are forever changed. We know now that we can be more flexible than we ever imagined, finding new ways to work, deliver products and services, and learn. We can accomplish a lot virtually, even if many of us prefer to meet in person.
In some way, we were all on the front lines of something we had never experienced. I want to thank all of you for the resilience you’ve demonstrated this year - for continuing to serve your customers in person or remotely through Zoom, for pivoting to a new business model, for reimagining your product to serve a virtual customer, for creating curbside or delivery options, adding an on-line store, or helping kids with remote school while running your business. And if your front line was providing health care, teaching, or delivering essential products and services - we are so very grateful to you.
The definition of resilience is to recover quickly from difficulties, or toughness. From what you all have shared with me and other members of the Chamber’s team about this past year, “resilience” is absolutely the word I’d choose to describe you.
Times of crisis requires bold leaders. I saw so many bold leaders this past year. Helping those in need, making critical policy decisions, providing critical care, shifting to new business models to serve essential needs. Leaders were everywhere – in business, the faith community, in neighborhoods, in government, in our families.
We still need all of you for the challenges ahead. Some of our businesses are still struggling, particularly hotels and others in the hospitality sector. Some businesses have closed, leaving employees looking for new opportunities and families in need. Housing prices are rising, which is great news for sellers, but challenging for communities like us who seek to provide attainable housing for their workforces. The Digital Divide still exists and our need to provide access for remote work, learning and healthcare is here to stay. Solutions will come from all sectors working together, public and private, bringing the lessons we’ve learned over the past year to meet the needs of the future.
2020 taught us new lessons, brought us together and made us collectively stronger. We’ll take these lessons as we move boldly into the future focused on recovery and never forget we are far more resilient than we ever knew.
Tracey Osborne Oltjen, CCE, IOM
President & CEO