It’s All In The Process…..
In recent months, the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce and its members have taken a public interest in issues facing our community. Since my arrival as its President, the Chamber had been somewhat cautious about weighing in on matters facing our city, county and state. Our approach, let’s call it “the rule”, is to inform and educate our membership to ensure they know what is pending and how it might affect them. The “exception” to that rule would be an open statement and active involvement in the debate.
A proposed storm water fee promoted more calls to the Chamber than any other during my short tenure. The call to action by some members met with a review of how best to consider the Chamber’s interest and how best to represent our business community.
More recently, the Chamber has voiced its support for a casino in Terre Haute that has taken shape in the form of Jon Ford’s Senate Bill 354. Again, Chamber staff and volunteer leadership were asked to consider its position and how best to represent.
Whether brought to the attention of the Chamber by news media, a member, or through staff research, an issue will be added to the agenda for discussion among our Governmental Affairs committee. The name of this committee has changed twice during the past year. Originally “Public Policy”, and later known as “Advocacy”, the current name best considers the “rule” and “exception” as mentioned earlier without ignoring the need to assist in the establishment of policy and to advocate when necessary.
The Government Affairs committee represents a cross-section of our Board and membership in that business, government, education and non-profits have a seat at the table. These various perspectives allow for an engaged conversation on the issues called for discussion. On occasion, people more closely aligned with an issue may be called to present or participate to ensure a better grasp of the topic. This is the first step of the process the Chamber has adopted.
Once a matter has been discussed by the Governmental Affairs committee, it may be passed along to the Executive Committee for review. The Executive Committee consists of the volunteer leadership of the Chamber and various committee chairs. With a more vibrant committee structure and the enlistment of other Board members and interested members to these committees, the general membership of the Chamber is provided an additional level of representation in the discussion of matters and any decision as to the level of involvement on a particular issue is presented to the full Board.
The final consideration, with the benefit additional staff research and monitoring of an issue, falls upon the Board of Directors of the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce. The Board is 37 strong and represents the more than 800 members of the Chamber. This is not to say that every stance and position taken or statement made by the Chamber is in agreement with every member, but the process described and the vetting that occurs represents the best effort of staff and volunteer leadership to ensure that the Chamber’s mission, “Building Business, Building Community”, is fulfilled.
For a first-hand look at state government, our Chamber will “drive-in” to the Statehouse on February 22, and have scheduled visits with our legislative delegation as they conduct the business of the day. Visits with other state leaders will also be scheduled. Contact the Chamber for more information.