Changing a Community with Your Heart

By: Fresno Chamber President/CEO, Al Smith

Recently at the Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2011 Valley Business Conference & Awards Luncheon, we bestowed a richly deserved honor to a local businessman. The 2011 Leon S. Peter’s Award distinction went to 93-year-old Dr. Pete P. Peters, a longtime successful business person and philanthropist, who happens to be the brother of Leon S. Peters, from whom the award was created. Without a doubt, awarding Dr. Peters with this honor was a special moment for the Chamber and was the highlight of the sold out luncheon.

In the video portion of the extensive tribute to Dr. Peters, there was mentioned – more of a phrase – that should be the mantra of us all. The announcer on the video said, “With his mind he changed a business and with his heart he changed a community”

Isn’t that what business should do?

Certainly, we want to make a profit and to develop a level of wealth; however, the contribution that business makes to any community goes way beyond its original profit motive. The business sector supplies jobs, which ultimately create the funds for families to acquire goods, enjoy a quality of life and improve themselves.

The acquisition part goes back to supporting business, who can then hire more people, who can then spend, etc, etc. The cycle goes on.

The quality of life only comes about when factors invest back into the community at large. There are countless individuals, like Dr. Peters, and numerous organizations who recognize the importance of having a community that is healthy economically, attitudinally and culturally.

The Chamber’s mission is supportive of that focus. We absolutely want to bring businesses together to increase relationships with each other. In no doubt, we want to develop programs that help businesses grow and prosper, which helps to create a strong local economy. Positively we want to use our influence to ensure that government gets out of the way in order for business to expand our economy. Most of all, we should never lose that focus.

But the fifth “core competency” of the Chamber is community stewardship. Above serving our member base, we have welcomed the mission of helping guide policies and activities that work to ensure a community where families can live, work, play and shop. We do just as the announcer said: “change the community.”

People join and/or support the Chamber for various reasons. Some want to meet other businesses, several want to learn, others want to guide the political arena and recognize the need for an organization to represent business. However, if we all adopted the attitude of Dr. Peters, the transformation of our community would benefit each of us at all levels. As they say, it would float all boats.

Dr. Peters – with your mind you changed a business and with your heart you changed a community. Thank you for the inspiration and thank you for making a difference.


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