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The Chamber Blog

This space features conversations about issues affecting the Decatur-Morgan County area from leaders in our community.

Why is the Chamber interested in education?

When someone asks me “what does the Chamber do, anyway?” there are a long list of potential answers. Promotes the development of a healthy business community… advocates for public policy that helps recruit high-paying jobs… executes leadership programs that prepare the next generation of leaders… the list could go on and on.

But my favorite answer is always “the Chamber is in the quality-of-life business.”

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We Belong

At the end of the day, we all want to belong.

When I came to Decatur from Natchez, Miss., in 1991 to become president of this Chamber, my wife and I quickly became connected to the community. I met elected officials with whom I’d be working with on public policy issues. I connected with business owners and entrepreneurs who were innovative in their craft and creating something new you couldn’t find anywhere else. I met with education leaders about connecting the business community and students to prepare the next generation workforce. We all shared stories about what motivated us in the work we did and what we valued at the end of the day.

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Who are your "champions?"

In April, I was honored to be handed the gavel to serve as Chairman of the Board for the Decatur-Morgan Chamber of Commerce for the next year. As I addressed the crowd of 230-plus Chamber members at our Annual Meeting, my main topic of emphasis was asking this question: “who are your Champions?” 

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Delano Park and Why It Matters

(Editor's note: this blog post originally appeared on DecaturNext, a platform by John Joseph of Decatur Corridor Development)

Our kids really enjoy Delano Park, Decatur’s oldest park, created in 1887 . We have to keep them from picking the flowers, but they still like to look at them. They enjoy running around the Park’s open spaces and playing with other children there. It’s a perfect place to have a picnic and slow down a little bit. 

It is a mistake, though, to think of Delano as “just a park.” A bigger picture exists, and I want to explore that here. Because it is a bigger picture we cannot afford to ignore.

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TRC: Learn what you're missing

We are in the midst of year 12 for the Chamber’s Total Resource Campaign (TRC), and an experience I wouldn't want to miss as a volunteer. It's interesting to look back and see how the program has evolved and its positive impact on local businesses, industries and our community.

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Not your grandfather's Jaycees

The Decatur Jaycees have been called many things; everything from “good stewards” and “the future of our community” to “wild” and “rowdy young folks.” Many people have heard of the Jaycees, maybe because of Riverfest, or maybe even from the Morgan County Fair back in the day. But few know who we really are or our true purpose in the city of Decatur.

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Top five stories from 2016 that make us excited to be in Morgan County

As we prepare for our transition into 2017, there is much talk about the top stories, the top newsmakers and the like in our daily media diet. With the divisiveness of political campaigns and conflicts around the world, it can be a challenge to remember we live in a great community and in the greatest country on the planet.

There are many, many stories among us that highlight the good in our community. We are headed in a positive direction, and this is an incredibly exciting time to live in Decatur and Morgan County. With that thought in mind, the Chamber would like to share the top five stories from 2016 that make us excited to be in Morgan County.

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United Way: A Smart Investment

While on a recent phone call with a large national company, the young man with whom I was speaking asked me what the United Way was. Not until I mentioned the National Football League commercials that the name even rang a bell for him.

I was stunned.

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21 Examples

Positive news is here in Decatur and you don’t have to look too hard to find it. While election seasons unfortunately bring with it forecasts of gloom and doom, when faced with facts, the weather looks bright for the River City.

Individually, each of the following is a flash of good news. Collectively, it shows a trend. The business climate in our city is strong.

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Our "Best & Brightest"

This is the perfect time for young professionals to live in Decatur.

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The tyranny of low expectations

Ray Mabus, former Governor of Mississippi and now Secretary of the Navy, once said that sometimes people become the victims of the “tyranny of low expectations.” It oftentimes becomes satisfactory to “settle” for something less than optimal.

Local chamber leaders simply must not be satisfied when someone tells us, “that’s the best we can do.” We should never accept the notion that “doing all right” is the norm and is acceptable. Our challenge as local chamber leaders is to find new opportunities, make difficult decisions, raise expectations, and tackle the status quo.

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"I want to lead"

What is one quality you love about the United States? There are a hundred responses you could give, and they is not one “right” answer. However, there is one thing everyone can agree makes our country strong: the ability to vote.

In our history, hundreds of thousands – maybe even millions – of people have died to protect our right to vote. It is our voice in shaping the future of our country. No one under any circumstance should take that right for granted.

But what is just as important as the right to vote, is the willingness of citizens to stand up and say “I want to lead.”

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It's a Mother-Daughter Thing

If you have ever stopped to think about the construction industry, you would realize it is quite a unique field. The construction industry affects everyone’s life and it offers products whose value can increase over time. It is also an industry where brick & mortar meets cutting edge technology and offers a wide range of challenging employment opportunities.

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A thank you to Richard Shelby

Since he has been in office, Senator Richard Shelby has put Alabama and its workers ahead of all other things.

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The expensive elephant in the room

Oftentimes, the subject of long-term care and the needs of aging relatives is the elephantin the room. No one wants to talk about it, but addressing it now and making plans early can result in more options and less stress for everyone in the family. It’s a decision that impact the “baby boomers” in our community who are integral to the history of our area.

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The Top Five Stories from 2015 that make us excited to be in Morgan County

As we reflect on 2015 and prepare for the transition to 2016, there is much talk about “Top News Stories,” “Top Political Stories,” “Most Read Stories,” “Top Newsmakers” and the like. Unfortunately, in the interest of selling papers and racking up page views, these lists rarely appeal to our best nature or discuss how great it is to live in the best nation on the planet.

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The United Way: A Spirit of Community

When you interview for a new position, especially in a new community, it’s an exchange of thoughts and ideas that both sides hope will lead to a good fit.

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Companies have choices. Let’s make sure they continue to choose us.

Now more than ever, corporations have numerous options when deciding where to invest their capital dollars. Our local companies not only compete with other U.S. operations, but other corporate facilities throughout the world.

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Collaboration is Power

Collaboration is a powerful word and an even more powerful concept.

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River Clay: Making History

A city center is often where a great deal of a community's business is coordinated and where government resides. Having a vibrant center has become an important indicator of the strength of a community. More and more, communities are investing in new infrastructure and making a dedicated effort to make their centers more inviting and successful. In recent years, Decatur's leaders have made the revitalization of ours a high priority goal.

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Communicating effectively is a major game-changer

The importance of effective communication in the workplace cannot be stressed enough. It is an indispensable entrepreneurial skill that can be learned and nurtured for improved productivity and successful achievement of goals.

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Commercial gill fishing hooks trouble for quality of life in Decatur and Morgan County

North Alabama – specifically our beloved Tennessee River – is known as one of the richest bodies of water for sports fishing in the country. That's not just my opinion. Drive by Ingalls Harbor boat launch and the Pavilion during a tournament weekend and count the number of boat trailers. Better yet, count the number of different state license plates on those trailers. This area's reputation for sport fishing is represented in the diversity of the states that come here, both for recreation and competition.

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It is amazing...

As I complete my one-year tenure as board chair, I tried to decide what was the most memorable part of this exciting ride. While proud of all the programs and initiatives started and expanded this year, the thing that stands out for me was meeting so many great people from our community. These folks, while wonderful in their own rights, were part of a bigger picture – a picture of a community coming together to make this a better place.

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“Selling” Our Community

If you live in Morgan County, you know what a great community this is to live, work and play. Awarding winning and high test score achieving school systems, low cost of living, several Fortune 500 companies who are engaged in the community and natural beauty that rival any other part of our country.

But sometimes, we have to remember to tell people about it.

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Why is the Chamber interested in Pre-K education?

Every child has worth. Every child should be given the tools and the chance to be successful. And that's why Pre-K education matters.

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The Chamber’s Top Five Stories of 2014 That Make Us Proud to be from Morgan County

It is the season when we read and see lists about the year past. In newspapers and on television we see "Top 10 Stories of 2014," "Most Read Stories of 2014," "Most Intriguing People of 2014," "Top Photos of 2014," etc. It seems like, more often than not, these stories are not of a positive nature.

If we were to make our list in Morgan County it would be stories about events and people who are changing our community in a very positive way. With that tone in mind, here is your Chamber's "Top Five Stories of 2014 That Make Us Proud to be from Morgan County."

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The Total Resource Campaign: location, location, location

Ask any realtor, and they will tell you the three most important factors in their business are location, location and location.

The same can be said when you're looking to market you own business or organization. Getting in front of the right audience at the right time can mean success or failure for your brand. So doesn't it make sense to use your marketing dollars in the most efficient ways possible?

This is why the Chamber's Total Resource Campaign (TRC) should matter to you.

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Want to make a difference? SHOP LOCAL!

One.

That's the number of people it takes to make a difference in our community.

And what is the single easiest thing one person can do to make a difference in our community? 

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Visiting "the issues"

As we approach the election season and the end of 2014, it is time for us to look ahead and make plans for what already appears to be a dynamic 2015 for our country.

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Community service at its best

500 volunteers. 500 volunteers hammering nails, painting walls, washing windows, cutting grass, gathering paper products. Each year, the second Tuesday of September arrives with Morgan County's finest stepping up to make a difference in our community.

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Leadership: All Shapes and Sizes

Being part of the Leadership Committee at the Chamber is like many things in life – the title and the reality don't always match.

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Not Your Normal Summer Break

Have you ever asked a high school girl, "what are you doing this summer?" Did you expect her to answer "a little welding, little electrical work and perhaps a chance to meet my future employer?"

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Doing Our Homework

As many know, this Chamber is about to embark on a capital campaign – the first in nearly five years. And as part of our pre-campaign feasibility study, our consultants gathered much insightful feedback regarding the Chamber's perceived performance to date and the plans for the future. Our consultants forced the interviewees to rank our program of work in relative importance to them. The results were telling.

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It's Never Too Late

Well, I guess it is never too late to learn new things.

This is my first ever blog post, which goes to the subject of this piece.

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The Chamber wishes to thank its Strategic Partners for their support.

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515 Sixth Avenue NE   Decatur, Alabama 35601   Phone: (256) 353-5312   Fax: (256) 353-2384


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