From the Chairman

Chambers Were Made for this Moment: Leadership

As I look out of my window from the Omaha Chamber Annex, a.k.a. my home office, I see spring has sprung! Everything is green or in bloom. People are walking or riding their bikes in a socially distanced manner. Even the traffic, though comparatively light, seems to be operating with a renewed purpose as essential goods are being delivered and essential service employees, first responders and health workers make their way to or from work. 

Depending on where you are in the country, whether you have already weathered the Corona storm, are currently hunkered down by decree or somewhere in between, I hope you are beginning to feel that sense of renewal. I am pretty sure that this feeling isn’t just impatience, although there is a good bit of that going around. And, I am pretty sure that it isn’t just cabin fever. I think it is a combination of relief and pride that chamber efforts to protect our employees and families, and to support our members and communities, have largely worked. I know, with 30 million people unemployed people out there, it may be difficult to wrap your mind around the thought that what we are doing has worked. But, just think about all of the stories you have heard about your members joining in to make a difference in your community. Think of all of the things your staff has done to make a difference. Think of everything that each of you has done to lead in these survival efforts. It is truly impressive and important work. And, just when we think we have it covered. When we have mastered every video chat application that exists.  Just when we get our members used to “networking” via computer screen. Just when we master the skills to lead and manage and cajole and politic all from our dining rooms or basements or guest rooms or home offices, we realize that all of this was just a preamble for the next step.


Now, I have come to realize, that this renewal I am feeling is really more about my head clearing, my worry dissipating and the path forward beckoning. I would be untruthful if I said the path was clear. All of us are trying to make decisions about a million different scenarios. But, I think in the end, it is this very moment that chambers were made for.  Leadership. We assumed the right to lead over the years when things were going great. We will earn our right to leadership now, when our members and communities need us the most. ACCE is there for us in this time of opportunity. Use the information at your fingertips to guide your boards and members in these difficult times. Use your relationships with chamber peers to find the best ideas, and them make them your own. Use your relationships with ACCE partners to help solve difficult problems. We will come out of this stronger, wiser and more nimble as leaders and organizations.

Be safe friends.


David G. Brown is chairman of the ACCE Board of Directors and president and CEO of the Greater Omaha Chamber, one of the largest, most highly accredited chambers in the nation and ACCE’s 2015 Chamber of the Year. Under David’s steady leadership, the Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership has successfully landed more than 760 projects, representing 37,090 jobs and more than $8.6 billion in capital investment since 2004.
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