There is no doubt that we have never seen a year like 2020. Because of that, and because of all the articles and information written to help us navigate this new environment – I’ve really become tired of reading the word “unprecedented” in articles about the economy and the future of business. It is everywhere, and deservedly so. The era ushered in with 2020 is, in fact, without precedent. However, it is a word so commonly used now I’ve been avoiding it in my own communications.
According to thesaurus.com alternatives to “unprecedented” might include: remarkable, uncommon, or unheard-of. Thesaurus.com also offers several more descriptive words including: bizarre, fantastic, and freakish. All of these terms are an accurate reflection that there are larger trends at work in the economy that often take some degree of control away from us in our daily lives. A pandemic virus and the resulting national economic slow down are indeed out of the direct control of all of us – including your humble local Chamber; however well motivated and supported by the community we proudly serve.
Now we are nearly half-way through 2020, and along with the remarkable tragedy we’ve experienced, this year has also brought with it no small measure of inspiring moments. The response of communities to keep vulnerable populations safe during coronavirus are chief among them. Perhaps most inspiring to me has been the tireless dedication of innumerable doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals working directly in the face of this new disease to aid the sick. Often working longer hours and with more limited safety equipment than in normal times. These stories display the very best of our community spirit and natural human compassion for each other.
The times we are in have also led to the next stage of innovation in business. If innovation is the ability to adapt to a changing environment, then I expect the pace of innovation in the business community is moving just as quickly as the impact of the COVID-19 virus is felt. As I’ve observed before in this space, the capacity of the free market economy to expand to the needs and desires of customers is astonishing in its speed and reliability.
The Round Rock Chamber has been lunging to keep pace with these times too. Sometimes this innovation has been natural, and almost instinctual. This was the case when we changed our communications role to focus entirely on resources becoming available. Also, for a period of weeks we temporarily redefined the entire function of a few of our staff to serve the immediate needs of the community. At other times, innovation has felt slow and laborious. And in the past three months, it is difficult to recall a time when our program decisions were made with any feeling of certainty at all.
In the coming weeks we plan to release a new approach to some of the major events and activities originally planned for 2020. Rather than throw up our hands and say, “we can’t do it like we planned”, your staff team has continued to challenge each other to develop alternatives we didn’t even know we needed three months ago. Those announcements will come at the appropriate time.
In spite of our full embrace of innovation to keep our activities strong, I’m encouraged by how much has not changed for this Chamber. Our first principles remain steadfast – that growth in the economy leads to new opportunities for everyone. Our role in the community as a gathering place and an interface between the government and private sectors continue. The Chamber will continue to be a cheerleader for all of Round Rock, and inform the foundational strategies to continue the growth of our city. The tactics of your Chamber will change, just as your business has had to change in the past few months. However, our role in driving economic growth in Round Rock will not change, nor will our mission.
On behalf of our staff and our board, I would like to share our sincere gratitude to you, your customers, and your families for sticking with the Chamber. We are so grateful to the many businesses that have continued their support for our community through their continued investment in the Chamber. Your investment is appreciated greatly during normal times and is all the more meaningful now that times are uncertain. Because of your investment our team stands ready to face the next challenge and can help you do the same. Thank you.