Wednesday, May 22, 2019

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Life is good. People say it all the time. There is a very successful line of t-shirts and other products, featuring that mantra. Sometimes, we all need to be reminded of that fact.

Health care. These two words are on the mind of every adult in this country. Outside of watching the news and thinking about the Affordable Care Act and how it affects you and your family, how much thought have you really given to the concept?

“Reaching across the aisle” – that’s one of my favorite phrases and something I feel we need not only to say but also to do more of, not just here in the Lake Gaston region, but around the country. We need to do a better job of understanding that success leads to success, that when one business or organization succeeds, it sets the bar for more successes in other businesses and organizations. As I have stated previously, we all need to work together and show support for businesses, non-profits, churches, schools, artists, and so forth here in the Lake Gaston region. The concept of Shop Lake Gaston 1st applies not only to literal shopping for goods and services but also to showing support for our region. We will be all the better because of it. Being supportive of the region does not mean that we turn a blind eye to issues that need to be addressed in order to make us more successful. However, while working to overcome challenges, we also put our best foot forward and promote the very best aspects of our area. In so doing, we are naturally more positive about the region and about each other; thus, we can do a better job of reaching across the aisle to work together to affect positive change. The Lake Gaston region is a wealthy region. I don’t mean that in terms of dollars and cents. Just take a moment to look around the Lake Gaston region at the wealth that really counts – creative people, abundant natural resources, proximity to interstate, location between Richmond and Raleigh, unique tourism attractions, entrepreneurial spirit and Southern hospitality, historic downtowns, agriculture, open space and so on and so on. There is so much that is in place for our businesses, our organizations, our schools, and our people to achieve success. We need more reaching across the aisle to see what other folks are doing that we might be able to tap into as resources for our region to make us even better. Do your employees not show the level of customer service that you would like to see? Take a look at businesses around the Lake Gaston region that are having success in this area. Talk to the owner or manager to see what steps they have taken to improve their customer service. Need more formal training? Our region has access to three top-notch community colleges – Halifax Community College, Southside Virginia Community College, and Vance-Granville Community College – all of which have continuing education and small business classes that may have just what you need. Some of the best volunteers in our area schools and non-profit organizations come from our regional businesses. Businesses, consider adopting a school or a non-profit and volunteer employee time, help raise funds, work on a project or serve on the board. Non-profits, reach out to the business community not only when you need to raise funds but also year-round when you are setting goals and seeking new ideas. In this way, businesses will be invested in your success year-round and won’t think you only reach out to them for funding. Schools, the best way for you to find out what businesses see as being lacking in our local workforce is to talk to them. Consider creating a business advisory board, especially to help in guiding your students who do not plan to attend college but who plan to seek work immediately after graduation. I love the collaborations that are going on with some of our regional school systems and our community colleges through Early College; whereby, some of our students will graduate with both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree. They will have a leg up in pursuing a bachelor’s degree, going into the military or seeking work. Health care organizations, seek business partners to implement grassroots wellness programs and to encourage healthy behaviors at their places of businesses with both employees and customers. By partnering and maximizing resources, we can accomplish so much more. I know I’ve thrown out a few perhaps old-fashioned sayings in this Chamber Talk, but I truly believe in them. Remember the old meaning for the T.E.A.M. acronym – “Together Everyone Achieves More.” Well, that’s another one that is absolutely true and speaks to the reaching across the aisle concept. Try to reach out around the region to find some partners. It will be a very rare thing indeed for you to reach out and not find another hand reaching back. Reach out to us at the Lake Gaston Regional Chamber of Commerce. I guarantee that we are ready to help this region any way that we can, including helping partners find each other and working with them to achieve success!

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