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Updated: Jan 5, 2021

Chamber Family,

I’m a sucker for a good action movie, especially a DC superhero sequel. In the opening scene of “Wonder Woman 1984,” young Diana is running through the land and she says, “Sometimes you can’t see what you’re learning until you come out the other side.” That quote struck me as it seemed to be the case for many of us struggling with the reality of what 2020 has brought. As a former educator, I always believe there is potential to learn in every situation. So I ask you, what can we learn from our experience as we come out the other side of this pandemic and head into 2021? I believe that for our business community to continue to be successful in 2021, we will need to continue to tailor our offerings to our customer’s needs and continue to evolve with those needs as restrictions and orders change.

As we close out 2020, I want to continue to Focus Forward as we Rise As One. 2020 was a year of firsts and some of them weren’t all that great. But it was also a time of growth for many businesses that we can learn from. Kearney will most likely come out of this pandemic with some significant economic damage, especially in certain industries, where a number of circumstances contributed to loss of business and not something that happened organically. Despite the challenges, Kearney is resilient and continues to be in better shape than most communities.

As for your Chamber, we have long been the voice of business at the state level, keeping an eye on important legislative bills and their impact on business as well as making sure our businesses are heard by those legislators casting votes.

During this pandemic, advocacy has taken on an urgent outcry. State and municipalities’ reactions to the pandemic have varied greatly from completely closed down to just requiring social distancing. Never has there been a greater need to help legislators understand the ramifications of these shutdowns. While everyone wants a healthy world, we feel it is our duty as a chamber to share the experiences of our business community so that those making decisions are fully aware of the impact.

Your Chamber has also been essential in advocating for greater access to small business loans, more attractive loan packages, and the Paycheck Protection Program. Your Chamber acted as a catalyst and created a COVID19 resource webpage, brought together leaders for a Business Virtual Roundtable, developed a Back to Business Playbook, helped distribute over $200,000 to Buffalo County employees, created an e-Gift Card Program that produced over $30,000, and addressed many more needs of the business community all in the last 9 months.

Your membership in the Chamber is a valuable investment in our effort to advance Kearney as an innovative regional business community. We are so appreciative of your support of our efforts in 2020 and as we approach 2021, we feel it has the potential to be a year of growth for many. It all depends on what you choose to invest your resources in. That is why one of the best investments you can make in 2021 is in your Chamber. Chamber membership is also 100% tax deductible!

One last movie analogy, (I watched a few over the Christmas break), was from a classic, “It's a Wonderful Life.” The movie is about George Bailey who has so many problems, he's thinking of ending it all. As he is about to jump from a bridge, he ends up rescuing his Guardian Angel, Clarence who then shows George what his town would look like without all of his good deeds over the years.

Our New Year’s wish for you in 2021 is to imagine Clarence showing you how your community would look if you and your business didn't exist. Sit down for a moment and think of what Clarence would come up with on your list of good deeds and start building 2021 on what you've done right, not on what may have gone wrong.

We sometimes think that we have problems, all George Bailey had was The Great Depression and a World War....I digress. Here's what's important; we have history that we can learn from. We have that same 'George Bailey' history of good deeds that serve as our foundation for overcoming any and all problems, no matter what size they are.

If Clarence doesn't show up this week, go ahead and list your good deeds on your own. It just might be the best New Year’s present you can receive this year.

Keep learning, keep leading, it's a Wonderful Life's work being in our great community.

Happy New Year!

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