As we all embark on a new adventure in 2023, it’s absolutely clear that the opportunities for chambers of commerce to be problem solvers are everywhere!
While these important and complex challenges are staring us in the face, I have to ask: do chambers have what it takes — the courage — to lead?
National polling is similar to our W.A.C.E. opinion poll results and clearly point out that most people think the United States is going in the wrong direction.
If you step back and ask — “can we really turn things around?” — the answers are all over the map and range from “we MUST” to “it’s beyond hope.”
Mobilize the Sane Center
I believe it’s going to come down to leadership and being willing to stand up and fight and not give up and throw in the towel. I’ve harped on this before; the answer is mobilizing the sane center.
According to our opinion poll, the top business concerns are the workforce shortage, housing and homelessness. From where I sit, my biggest concern is political polarization. It impacts everything. Your top issues could be solved much more easily if we weren’t so polarized and work to find common ground.
There is so much work to do in 2023 and the years ahead. If chambers of commerce engage in the often-uncomfortable role of being in the solutions business, things can, and will, get better. And if chambers do engage, their value to your members and the community will skyrocket.
Change Elected Officials
Adding to the discomfort is the fact that, if we really are going to get things done, solve problems and change policies, we just might have to change our elected politicians.
I’m worried…if chambers decide to “play safe” and sit on the sidelines and let others determine the future, it could be a recipe for organizational irrelevance.
There is A LOT of work to do. It will NOT be easy. Let’s stand up for what’s right, lead and get things done!
2023 is a THIS IS IT moment! Go get ’em!
Dave Kilby is president and CEO of W.A.C.E. and executive vice president of corporate affairs at the California Chamber.