"The Chamber is in the planning process of updating its Strategic Plan for 2010/2011. It is our mission to serve as a resource to business, citizens, and visitors while promoting and fostering economic growth and improving the quality of life in Clay County, Indiana. Please list the two, most important to you, objectives you would like your Chamber to accomplish in the coming year and reply by e-mail." Phil Redenbarger, president, Clay County Chamber of Commerce
Three essential elements determine how big, and how prosperous, any city will become.
First, foremost, and without exception, is water. No city, country or civilization has ever outgrown its water supply. Brazil is where it is because somebody discovered there'd be enough water to refresh people and horses traveling west on the National Road. (Note to Mayor Bradshaw: If city needs to raise rates to help us grow, you got my vote.)
Second is transportation. In some places it was a river; for us first came the highway, then railroads. Without the highway we'd not be County Seat, just ask Bowling Green. When the highway was moved south change was inevitable.
Third, oddly enough, is banking. Without banks willing to back commerce, there is no commerce.
A fourth ingredient for a town's success, at least in my observation, is its Chamber of Commerce. I've seen towns having no productive Chamber die out at a rate of one departing business, one lost job, at a time. Communities survive without an effective Chamber, but success is a lot more likely with an active Chamber membership.
Brazil itself does not thrive as it did in the years before Interstate-70. Things change. But as of now we still see new business starting, existing ones locating here, and retiring owners handing reigns to the next generation. This kind of thing happens as an active Chamber of Commerce encourages new and old residents to believe they can succeed in the local business environment. If you live and prosper in this community, be grateful we have a Chamber of Commerce looking ahead and not back.
In a big city small-potatoes business people would not be listened to nor cared about. But, we do not live in a big city. We live in one of those famous "villages." In a village everyone has something to add, and no one has all the answers. In a village all those invested in the community's economic success have a responsibility to Do. We cannot just talk about what we might do if somebody else first insures local success.
That said, it is a myth that a Chamber has any real power, letters to the editor notwithstanding. It does have a certain political clout, but only as it organizes behind something that really needs to be done. Uncle Phil asks for suggestions. Mine would be to pick something, or some things, important to our area success and ride it to success or death.
Given my experience of nobody actually listening to anything I say or write, looks like Uncle Phil needs your input for the future of the Clay County Chamber of Commerce. Post your thoughts here and I will be sure he gets them.
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.