My View – Sue Dick, Tallahassee Democrat, August 14, 2016

myview-081616Originally printed in the Tallahassee Democrat, August 14, 2016

This coming week the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce will be hosting our Annual Community Conference in Amelia Island. The conference, which began as a retreat with a little over 100 attendees, has now blossomed into the single largest annual gathering of Tallahassee business and community leaders. Our conference brings people together in a way that is not only unique in our community, but unique compared to communities across the country.

For three days each year, the Chamber serves as the host for a dialogue about our community that is unmatched in size and depth of conversation. The sessions and speakers at the conference each year are carefully curated in an effort to inspire business growth, encourage community understanding and inspire thoughtful leadership.

Every year, Chambers of Commerce from around the nation seek guidance from our talented staff on how to create a similar event for their community. The conference has become a national best practice for communities seeking to bring their leaders together in an impactful way.

This year there will be more than 750 people attending the events that happen in and around the conference. With more than 500 registered attendees, the conference model continues to meet the market demand for a well-designed and community focused multi-day event.

For the past 20 years, the Chamber board of directors has aimed to continue raising the bar for the conference and the expectations that come with it. I am proud to say that in a year with so many major changes in our community, our conference is sold out. Surely that is a sign of the optimism our members have for growth in our community.

The volunteer leadership of the Chamber has seen the demand for our conference continue to grow alongside the growing demand for greater dialogue, shared vision and leadership for our community. This year as we prepare to grow the conference and gather again, I believe it is important to remember why we host the conference each year – an effort to create a stronger business environment that can help build a stronger community.

The ideas, relationships and business deals that are created each year during our annual gathering continue to be the return on investment for those who attend. The impacts of a powerful idea, a new relationship or the biggest deal of the year for someone all add up. They add up to a stronger business environment and a stronger community than we had the year before.

The Chamber’s Annual Community Conference is not only an opportunity for our members to learn about our community, but it’s an opportunity for the community to learn about our members. If there is anything worth noting in the world today, it is that we all benefit from spending more time with a diverse range of people who share a common belief in a stronger community.

I’m honored to be able to speak for our leaders and members in saying that we are extremely excited to help bring people together once again at the Annual Community Conference.