In April, I was honored to be handed the gavel to serve as Chairman of the Board for the Decatur-Morgan Chamber of Commerce for the next year. As I addressed the crowd of 230-plus Chamber members at our Annual Meeting, my main topic of emphasis was asking this question: “who are your Champions?”
In the time leading up to that date I had watched a lot of television and Netflix and was consumed with mythical characters like Achilles-Troy, Spartacus and Jamie Lannister from “Game Of Thrones” and how often they were called upon to serve as Champions. These heroic characters were known and recognized as leaders of their respective groups but each was always willing to serve when called upon. Some were Champions for their country, some their house and others their families namesake. When duty called for the best they always represented as a Champion and were the ones stepping forward.
It made me think more about our Champions that we call upon every day in our communities. The task Mayor Tab Bowling has in his role is as a representative of our city. Every time he answers a question, shakes a hand, makes a telephone call or speaks to a group, he always has to be a Champion for the city of Decatur. He is the one we elected to stand for our City.
Our Chamber had just returned from our annual Montgomery trip which included more than 80 professionals and top students, and fresh on my mind were comments made of our local delegation from many of those who are associated with business in the State House. How often we heard about Rep. Terri Collins being a Champion for Pre-K and education. While there if you bump into anyone who is a native of Montgomery or state politics and they hear you’re a resident of Morgan County, they immediately transition into how fortunate we are to have State Sen. Arthur Orr as a Champion for our area and the State of Alabama. It made me think about how often we call upon them to serve our communities interest in the most important of circumstances at the state level.
I have had the privilege to work with the Chamber in several aspects over the years and I fully know the body of work and all the programs CEO John Seymour and his staff already have in place. Programs that cultivate leadership and development, and awareness to public policy, pay attention to our industry infrastructure and what is needed in workforce development develop. The Chambers is always in support of our Downtown revitalization efforts and always pushing for strong economic growth across the area. I’ve been fortunate to work beside some outstanding Chamber chairs and vice chairs over the years and really look forward to the year to come and all that we can accomplish as each serve in their respective roles. I am most impressed how each of these servant leaders take a little time away from their families, jobs and businesses to volunteer and serve as “Champions” for the Chamber. Change is coming to the look of our mall, hospital and even to our school system in the form of a new superintendent.
We are going to need Champions to support and endorse all the great things going on in our community. Decatur is now becoming known for the great efforts made to attract young and vibrant great minds in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math)-centric fields to our area, and we need Champions to continue to attract the generations to follow. Whether it is serving on a board, partaking in a leadership class, or volunteering at an event, our main goal is to help positively promote Decatur.
Your energy and expertise are needed to help grow and prosper our city in the right direction. Will you answer the call to be a “Champion” in our community?
Patrick Johnson is the owner of State Farm - Patrick Johnson Agency and serves as the Chamber's board chairman. He and his family live in Hartselle, Ala.