By: Scott Miller, Fresno Chamber of Commerce Board Chairman and Owner of Gazebo Gardens
Holy Cow – I’m starting my year in the Big Chair. I am Chairman of the Board of one of the largest Chambers of Commerce in California, a tremendous honor and a daunting task. With over 118 years of Fresno Chamber history behind us, my charge is to help make 2012 a year that stands out as a success. Really?!?! How the heck am I supposed to do that? Apparently, the Executive Committee neglected to read my resume before they confirmed me. The smartest people in Fresno have been running this thing for well over a century and it’s pretty unreasonable to expect 2012 to stand out against that magnificent backdrop of greatness.
But, I guess we do have some advantages when it comes to having a standout year.
For one, the Fresno Chamber is starting the year financially healthy. Anyone with access to basic information knows that the economic conditions of the past few years have pummeled non-profit groups of all kinds. Although your Chamber has been no exception, through the excellent planning and cost cutting of previous boards, we ended 2011 in the black, and substantially so. Had it not been for the hard work and sacrifice of the staff and some really tough decisions made by previous boards led by Rick Whitsell and Bruce Batti, the 2012 team wouldn’t have it so easy.
Another tremendous advantage is the Chamber staff. As an active member of this community and board, I’ve had occasion to meet economic development professionals from many organizations and from every level of government. I have absolutely no reservation saying that the staff of the Fresno Chamber is among the very best in the business. They are an amazing group of people who represent our business community very well every day. I’m saying that because I mean it, not just because I need them to help me look smarter than I actually am during my year as chair.
And, I have to ask – have you taken a look at the list of people who make up our board this year? There are some amazing people there as well, each adhering to the Chamber’s high standards of participation in addition to running their individual businesses. Every one of these people is a leader outside of the organization, and most are active participants in one or more committees. When you have this many type ‘A’ personalities pulling in one direction on behalf of the business community, it is a force to be reckoned with.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly in terms of our chances to make 2012 a stand-out year for the Chamber, are the sheer number and variety of issues that the Chamber will affect this year. We will continue to lead on the topic of High Speed Rail. We will be steadfast in our efforts to bring stakeholders together to find a solution to the escalation of property crime that’s crippling our economy. We will lobby at every level of government to ensure reliable water for our Ag community. We will continue to remind consumers to “Buy Local”. And we will continue to host mixers, answer questions, make connections and generally be a resource for businesses of every size as they strive to improve in the coming year.
In reality, I believe that 2012 will be a great year in the history of the Chamber. Dare I say the “greatest year ever”? Maybe. But in any case, I’m excited, energized, and honored to be the Chairman of the Board of your Fresno Chamber this year.