A message from President and CEO Tara Barney

2020 Perfect Vision –
2021: A year for courage

Tara Barney,
President & CEO, Southwest Indiana Chamber

This new year is a welcome one for all. 2020 forced change on us. The impacts of COVID-19, of our nation’s reckoning with systemic racism, and the changes our businesses and institutions are making to take advantage of technology and stakeholder expectations are the challenges and the work ahead for 2021.

To paraphrase Robert Frost, two paths diverged and we have opportunity to choose. How we balance our instinct to hold tightly to the past, with the imperative to build on the hard-learned lessons of 2020, is a choice each of us will make. Let’s choose to be deliberate, to be courageous about welcoming the changing opportunities our region has before us to thrive. Our future depends on growth, on more people choosing to live and work here. Our success in demonstrating a welcoming and inclusive culture, in fostering a skilled and innovative workforce, in making public policy decisions that attract both business and individual loyalty, will tell the story of 2021.

The Southwest Indiana Chamber, the association of businesses committed to the shared economic prosperity of our region, was challenged to change our operations last year. We pivoted and re-structured the manner in which we serve our members and constituents when COVID-19 closed us down. I’m proud to report that our Board of Directors made tough calls that positioned the Chamber to work with Evansville regional leaders to respond to the many challenges that came our way. We won’t go back; we’ve learned to be relevant and impactful in new ways. We learned, we tested ideas and we embraced the new operating models that best served our mission. And along the way, we’ve become stronger, more relevant and enthusiastically open to new ideas. We have come to trust and respect the differing strengths of our partner organizations. Last year reminded us that none succeed alone. We will continue to honor our history and to make the important changes that best serve the Evansville regional economy.

In the short-term this means that you can count on us to keep the latest guidance on COVID-19 vaccination availability, safety information and the latest on the Economic Aid Act (including the second round of Paycheck Protection Program) available.

This year, we will continue to work more closely with our regional partners. We will offer businesses the technical assistance and educational content that supports their growth, the opportunities to connect and collaborate, and we will be much more virtual in delivering all these services. This month, we will host Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke for a virtual lunch conversation. Mayor Winnecke will share his take on the work of the City of Evansville over the past year and what we can look forward to in 2021.

Let’s make 2021 the year we demonstrate courage:
1. Some of the COVID changes forced on us worked. Let’s build on these and challenge ourselves and our institutions to keep adapting to our changing expectations.
2. Make equity the filter through which our public policy decisions are made. A huge credit to our community leaders, our citizens, and our institutions for recognizing that the time is long past to be deliberate in our commitment to equity for all citizens of our region.
3. Welcome change and be intentional. Our future depends on growth, on more people choosing to live and work here. Our success in demonstrating a welcoming and inclusive culture, in fostering a skilled and innovative workforce, in making public policy decisions that attract both business and individual loyalty, will tell the story.

While 2020 was a year of uncertainty and hardship, it was also a year of perseverance and hope. I’ve been inspired by the resiliency , determination, innovation and generosity of our business community during this global pandemic. We can expect a bright future, and together we will thrive.

#lovelocal #TogetherWeThrive #EveryActionCounts

Tara Barney
President and CEO, Southwest Indiana Chamber
tbarney@swinchamber.com