For at least twenty years, this Chamber has operated nimbly, quickly, and sometimes radically. We have taken on big projects, we have adopted programs that many of our colleagues might have avoided, and we have chosen to be a leader in the development of the future of Statesville and its citizens. The cold, heartless truth is that we have also undertaken this without any strategic plan. Operating without a plan does have its benefits, namely nimbleness and flexibility. Truthfully, however, operating without a long-term strategy often leads to spreading yourself too thin and losing effectiveness.
Over the last three months, we undertook extensive surveying of our past and current membership and had some very honest dialog with our board of directors, discovering what we do well and areas in which we pay better lip service than elbow grease. During the last week of September, we gathered 37 community leaders and members of our board of directors for the seemingly arduous task of trying to put legs on a strategic plan.
Over the past ten years, we have tried to take a partnership role in creating and expanding a heightened sense of community. In some ways, our successes have been astounding:
• The number of events that are attracting local and regional people to Statesville is, quite frankly, staggering. There is an energy downtown; we can begin to refocus our efforts.
• We’ve begun to see our population grow substantially, accompanied by business growth, both industrial and commercial.
• Our education system, through the assist of two school bond referendums, continues to excel.
The cold, hard and honest opportunities that lie ahead:
• Our per capita income is below the state average. This demands immediate attention.
• We must be more inclusive in the economic renaissance of the community.
• It is imperative that we create or enhance the community’s communication stream so that we articulate opportunities, problems, concerns, and celebrations.
As we move forward with the development of our strategic plan to ensure success for the Chamber, our members, and our community, you can trust that this document will focus on creating a more unified Statesville. That does not mean that we must agree on all issues all the time, but we must build upon a system in which diverse voices are heard. As our community continues to expand, we will provide programming and promotion for segments of the community that have felt under served. We will seek to build partnerships with others in the Statesville area to accomplish common goals. The Chamber is a trusted leader in this community. We treasure that trust and hope to utilize that trust to break ground on a brighter tomorrow for ALL of us.