by Cathy Davis, Executive Vice President of the Lake Champlain Chamber A couple weeks ago I sent notes to all of the members of the Burlington City Council thanking them for their service and introducing myself to those I do not yet know. In my note, I let them know that I’ll soon take over as President of the Lake Champlain Chamber and how aligned I believe that their work on the Council is to the Chamber’s work to create economic opportunity for all Vermonters. I asked to start a dialogue, hear their priorities, and begin a relationship so that the Chamber can serve as a resource for them as issues are considered.
I have already heard from several Councilors. I hope, amidst what I am sure are very busy schedules, that others respond and that we can forge a productive working relationship.
Many business owners have been in touch with me about some of the policy issues the Council has considered in recent months. Amidst all the challenges our business community faces right now, discussion of dramatic changes can make an uncertain landscape feel impossible.
The Lake Champlain Chamber will always be a strong voice for businesses, sharing the knowledge of our members and our perspective on what helps, and hurts, the economy.
That said, this isn’t the time to retreat to our corners. I feel strongly that if we don’t make an effort to listen to each other - especially those with whom we might disagree- we miss out.
If we think that one perspective is always right and the other side is wrong, we miss out.
Yes, I get to serve the best business community in the world and their love for our community, their business smarts, their emphasis on quality, make me proud to represent them.
But, we’re not always right. As a Chamber we’ve been on the side of many issues that created opportunities and, in hindsight, there’s some issues where we should have thought more broadly. But the point is, engaging and listening helped us learn and made our community better for it.
I know these are incredibly challenging times for the Council, for the City, for the businesses that create opportunity, and for many as individuals. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t love this City and divisiveness won’t serve us well. So let’s disagree, let’s be critical, let’s debate. I won’t shy away from sharing my perspective and I won’t ignore yours.