A Future-Focused Chamber
When, during its 110th annual meeting in January 2020, I assumed the role of chairman of the Board of Directors of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, I did so with clarity about the responsibility of the role and an appreciation for the expectations of the membership, the needs of the community, the capabilities of our staff and the Chamber’s forward focus.
“This meeting is a time for us to look back, but it’s also a time for us to look ahead. A time to see what was, and to vision what will be,” I shared then with an audience of business and community leaders. “Twenty-twenty (2020) will prove to be a pivotal year for our Chamber. The Board has worked diligently with staff to think strategically, and to reimagine and redirect the future of our Chamber. Like for many of the organizations we serve, the business environment demands we evolve, so it’s no longer business as usual. The future is ours for the taking.”
Through extensive research and feedback from our stakeholders, we knew then that the forward issues on which we would focus were the right priorities for our members and our community. We knew we needed to be more responsive and also more proactive; more strategically focused and also broader in reach. We knew we needed to be a nimbler, more agile organization, in order to meet the needs of the membership and to advance the issues before us.
“Some consistent themes emerged: Being intentionally inclusive across various facets of the business community. Strengthening communications, and our member, community and regional outreach. Providing leadership in small business development, workforce development. Stepping forward as a convener and a purpose-driven organization, with the idea to build on past successes to become more relevant locally, regionally and statewide,” I said. “With a new mission and vision, we can become a future-focused Chamber poised to serve as a key organization, not just today but well into the future. As a result, our priorities are clear and our objectives meaningful as we seek to become a Chamber positioned for future success.”
And so here we are, well into the fast-tracked future, executing a vision and a strategy we knew then was transformational, and evolving quickly and strategically to facilitate Albany’s economic recovery and to ensure its long-term economic resiliency.
We, like you — our members, our businesses, our community — have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in every way. And we, like you, have adapted. Our investments in board and staff development, member outreach, relationships, digital communications and technology have allowed us to transition operations and programs from predominantly in-person to a virtual/hybrid model. We’re hosting meetings online, offering our programs and events virtually, connecting you with resources and experts and officials — all from our computers to yours. You’re tuning in, learning, engaging, connecting and providing feedback. We’re developing new programs. We’re leveraging the online platform to expand our reach, be more inclusive, provide our resources to more businesses and to more quickly advance key areas for our members, our Chamber and our community. And we’re doing this not from our traditional work desks.
Since 1991, our home has been at 225 West Broad Avenue in the heart of downtown Albany. Since March, our HQ has been 225 West Broad Avenue, but our get-it-done work office has been any address, physical or virtual, that allows us to serve our members, support our community and meet our mission. We’ve worked remotely without sacrificing our responsiveness to our members. We’ve been here. Open. And working for you.
In 2019, the Chamber Board of Directors and staff committed themselves not just to vision and strategy, but to operational excellence in order to better carry out our mission. With everything on the table, we allowed ourselves to envision a future in which 225 West Broad Avenue wasn’t our home. What 2020 has proven to us, and to you, is that we are an organization without walls. We can serve you, and serve you well, from anywhere. Our commitment to Albany lies not in our physical space, but in our purpose: To create a thriving community.
And so, it is with confidence in our present, and with confidence in our future, that we are pursuing the sale of our historic property at 225 West Broad Avenue. Our hope is that its future purpose will be as impactful as its present. And, while we know we can work from anywhere – even from home, we do appreciate and value a physical presence in our community, a versatile working space, a space to convene, for collaboration, and are exploring options in Albany’s central district.
In the months to follow, you can expect the Albany Area Chamber to continue serving you while we pursue the sale of 225 West Broad Avenue. And you can expect your Chamber to continue evolving. To continue innovating. To continue launching. To continue leading. To continue being your advocate and your champion; your resource and your advantage; your connector and your convener.
This year marks our 110th anniversary. This year marks our new future.
I’m grateful to serve alongside you.
Perry Revell is the 2020 Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, and Executive Vice President at AB&T.