Reflections on 2020 bring resolve in 2021

It seems like just a short time ago Jack Wells took the gavel from Dave Roberts and became the 2020 Chamber Board Chair in front of a crowd of nearly 800.

That night, he said the following in his address:

“Our Chamber has been around since 1913. Since then, two World Wars have passed and times have certainly changed; yet this organization continues. And we really stand for the same thing we stood for over 100 years ago. Our Chamber exists, to grow our economy and make Owensboro a community that can compete globally.

We will use 2020 to continue our goals for place making and addressing our members’ workforce needs. We will continue to work behind the scenes to move things forward. And we will continue to find ways to make our Chamber membership add value for our small businesses, our nonprofits and our largest employers.

I am proud to be chair of a board made up of people in this community moving things forward. And I am even prouder to serve the tens of thousands of people who make up our membership. Let’s keep the momentum going! The best is yet to come.”

On that night, it seemed that we were on a journey headed upward.

COVID-19 became the dominant force in 2020 threatening our small businesses that are the cornerstone of our local economy, local community and chamber.

As we moved through and navigated shutdowns, economic relief packages and constant uncertainty, we were hit by the tragic news of Jack’s death in August. There are no words to adequately describe his loss. As a mentor, friend, colleague, brilliant business mind and consummate son of Owensboro, Jack positively impacted everything he touched.

Yet through the deep losses we have experienced, resilience and perseverance were hallmark characteristics of 2020, and they continue into 2021. Each one of our members has done their part to move Greater Owensboro forward. Whether keeping operations afloat amongst adversity like we have never seen, or working around the clock to meet growing demands for products and services, every sector of our community has done its part. Each day brings another example of our community adapting and innovating. We at the Chamber have been truly inspired — but not at all surprised — by our members’ hard work and resolve.

2021 has most certainly had its own set of challenges — including defeating COVID 19. But we have a resilient community. And we have a strong foundation of leaders, ideas, initiatives and goals that are ready to be built upon. Our Chamber understands the critical role it plays in the community … after all, networks of people are what move communities through times like these. With over a century under our belt, our Chamber is up to the challenge!