A New Era
By: George Halford | 09.09.15

Well, Labor Day is here!  High school and college football have begun with the pros kicking off next weekend.  Tennessee Tech University students are back on campus for fall semester (thank goodness!), and early fall, with cooler nights and early mornings, is definitely in the air.  Indeed, for most of us, it is an exciting and exhilarating time of the year, as we look forward to the final four months of 2015.

For us Baby Boomers, Labor Day has historically been a psychological benchmark time of the year.  Officially, summer is still in process, but in my “body clock,” fall and the change of season begins the week of Labor Day!  In the “good old days” (for most of us), the holiday signaled the unofficial end of those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.  Families would actually schedule one last mini vacation before school began the next week and the regular pace of work increased back to pre-Memorial Day levels.  We began to set our sights upon “to do lists” and Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the next big life cycle, end of year with the Christmas holiday season.

Historically, for your Chamber of Commerce, the general ebb and flow of our non-profit business association paralleled that of the overall community.  Chambers would typically begin the year at a feverish pace, which included, but was not limited to, increased industrial prospect activity, an Annual Meeting, new officers and Board leadership, membership campaign, and the beginning of the committee system with over 200 volunteers involved in accomplishing the Chamber program of work.  It was “heads down” until school ended in late May, early June, and then we subconsciously slowed down as far as meetings and major activities were concerned.  It was a simpler time!  A side note, for me as a young workaholic, it was always my most challenging time of the year.

Now, “here in the real world” of today, my how times have changed!  Did we actually have a summer?  Or better yet, where has 2015 gone?

Thanks to forces such as globalization of the economy, two-income family structure, year-round schools, and quantum advancement in technology that has resulted in the “24-7” employee; we are always on-call and reachable, even on vacations.

However, before one thinks that I am pining for yesteryear, as a recovering workaholic, I am still very excited to live in the overall best of times – today!  It is my time of the year!

Your Chamber of Commerce has adjusted its traditional seasonal work/planning schedule to meet the challenges and opportunities of the new era.  This summer we witnessed a large uptick in industrial prospect activity and, of course, the Ficosa announcement, our Highlands Workforce Development Program is in high gear, and visitors and retirees are being recruited to our community in record numbers.  In short, summer was a very busy time for your Chamber.

Now we are in the midst of a major re-engineering and planning process which will include rebranding (new logos, websites, etc.) of the Chamber, Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB), and Highlands Economic Partnership (HEP), and a new tiered dues program for our members!  Head down, focus!