By: Brian D. Anderson Sr.
President & CEO
Dalton-Whitfield Chamber of Commerce
At a recent meeting, one of the speakers discussed the latest thinking around New Year’s resolutions. The main themes of resolutions can be as simple as eating less and exercising more, or saving more money than the year before. The main takeaway I heard from the discussion of resolutions is that most people that do establish them are not any better off than those who don’t. In true candor, I have in the past created a few resolutions. This year, however, I chose not to.
Without a few good goals to pursue (or guilt inducers to worry over), how can I enter 2010 confidently and focused? After surviving 2008 and 2009, I decided that 2010 has to be better. My efforts must be entirely focused on making 2010 much better. Most of us have been tremendously blessed. As we witness the devastating effects of the earthquake in Haiti, we would be wise to count our blessings in spite of tough economic times.
It is with these thoughts that I enter the new year. I have no misperceptions that 2010 will be a return to boom times. But I also do not enter it with feelings of discouragement or worry. I begin this new year cautiously and mindful that we can make it better than the last two. My feelings of caution could quickly turn to optimism with just a hint of progress. I have said it before, the Dalton-Whitfield community is a resilient community and I am bullish on our community going into 2010.
Why would any of us be cautiously optimistic? Let me share a few of the reasons that might provide for a much improved 2010. Over the last 18 months, during the longest economic slowdown in our community’s post-depression era, your Chamber (working collaboratively with many) developed and implemented the Grow Greater Dalton campaign. This effort was created solely to enable our community to have an accelerated level of resources for economic development. After a year of presenting the goals developed by a large number of stakeholders, investors ranging from individuals, small business owners, large industry leaders, and local government leaders have pledged over $6 million for creating a stronger economic future for our community.
The Dalton-Whitfield County Joint Economic Development Authority now has the resources it needs to fully enable us to compete locally, regionally and globally. Our community’s economic development team will have the resources to market us and be able to recruit companies within targeted industries that are looking for communities to invest in as they expand. Our economic development team, working with regional partners in Chattanooga and Cleveland, will be able to make the most of the huge investments being made by Volkswagon and Wacker Chemical. It is a real bonus that we are surrounded by aggressive and visionary leaders.
After being selected as an Archway Partnership community and having one of the largest listening sessions in Archway’s history, the executive committee has been created and is busy prioritizing the feedback presented by the community. Under the leadership of our Archway Executive, Melissa Lu, the Archway team will be delivering results for our community similar to the successes experienced by the other seven Archway communities in Georgia.
Our local governments are working diligently to position us strategically. They are investing in infrastructure, reinventing the role of government, and maintaining low tax rates and/or reducing taxes. They are researching and debating the merits of consolidating services in order to better utilize crucial yet limited tax revenues.
Although I worry about the things that others do, I also try to look for the positives in most situations. And given the circumstances of many, I continue to see the upside available to our community. Recently Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond spoke to the Dalton Rotary Club. During his speech, he complimented our community for pulling together and proactively developing and implementing plans and programs that would generate positive returns for us. While it may seem easy to sit back and sing the blues while waiting for someone to take care of us - that is not in our DNA. Our heritage pushes us to work for a better tomorrow.
Regardless of how we all feel going into 2010, there is good scientific data that can provide some insight into what the new year could have in store for us. Although some would argue that listening to economists is like betting the farm on the local weatherman, I would argue that those in the economic forecasting field and the meteorological field are right most of the time. On Tuesday, January 26th, Dean Robert Sumichrast, Dean of the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia will be the Keynote speaker for the next Wake-Up Whitfield. The session will be at the Dalton Golf and Country Club from 8:00am-9:00am. Dean Sumichrast will provide his best insight into the 2010 economy.
The Dalton-Whitfield Chamber of Commerce works hard for our member-investors. We understand your passion for this community and we feel the same. We will work tirelessly throughout 2010 creating a better tomorrow built on the heritage of those that came before us. Let us be mindful of our blessings while we work hard to develop our opportunities!