In March 2020, the Columbia Chamber of Commerce was readying for significant changes. We were preparing to launch our Workforce Development Division, add new programming, expand our staff, and continue to support our thriving business community. We did not know we would be facing significant changes to the way our world, community, and organization operate.
Now, a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, our community is making meaningful progress on the Road to Reopening. The Chamber has been there every step of the way, working as a champion for business, convener of inclusive collaboration, and a catalyst for a thriving community. The Chamber has never stopped being pro-business. Regardless of being a membership-funded organization, the Chamber has never stopped working for and educating the entire business community throughout the pandemic onset to today.
At the beginning of the pandemic, we provided input to the City regarding essential and nonessential businesses. By inserting ourselves into the conversation, we were able to ensure that businesses stayed open and operational. In the following months, there were countless late-night phone calls with the health department, the City, and our members, convening meetings with community partners, and hours logged strategizing the most effective ways to advocate for our business community.
We collaborated with the Homebuilders Association, Board of Realtors, Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Columbia Hospitality Association to advocate these industries’ safe operation. We have facilitated meetings every three to four weeks with our bars, restaurants, and event venues with the City, University, County, and Health Department. We communicated through our website, social media, webinars, and email to provide factual and timely information to our community.
We have nurtured our relationships with community partners such as the City so that in moments like this, we can effectively advocate and represent businesses, especially our small businesses. We have not, nor will we ever, make threats, blast individuals or organizations on social media, nor work to exclude anyone. We will maintain civility among our community as that is the way to true, lasting progress.
As we move out of the pandemic, the Chamber continues to be amazed by our community’s ability to collaborate and pivot. We will forever be proud of our region’s resilience during this trying time. As we eagerly resume launching our Workforce Development Division, we are ready to bolster our thriving community again. Thank you to those who continue to support the Chamber and the business community-at-large. As always, the Chamber will continue to keep you informed and represented for your success and the success of our entire community.
CEO of Shelter Insurance
Chair of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce