Be prepared to take the helm

Be prepared to take the helm

By Chamber Chairman Denise Deal

“Abraham Lincoln did not go to Gettysburg having commissioned a poll to find out what would sell in Gettysburg. There were no people with percentages for him, cautioning him about this group or that group or what they found in exit polls a year earlier. When will we have the courage of Lincoln?” – Robert Coles

I love this quote! I thought about requesting it be placed in large print in the space where my column normally appears, but as you can see, the idea did not get much support. No, this column has nothing to do with the current national political scene and everything to do with our community’s future. We, as a society, tend to dwell heavily on studies, polls, special interest groups, and so on. Now, don’t get me wrong, this type information is very important and should be taken into context when making an educated decision. However, sometimes, we just need to do things because they are the right thing to do and not necessarily the most popular thing to do.

We have become a society that lives and breathes based on the ideals of the masses. STOP IT! Every single day, we are each presented with situations, some big and some small, that require us to make a decision we know will not be supported by everyone. Nevertheless, we often make a decision and stick to this decision because it is in the best interest of all concerned.

The month of March sparks thoughts of spring and renewal. I am often amazed at how the landscape can change from season to season (especially in the middle of a 100 year drought), and I am especially fond of the changes that take place during spring because it takes all that is grey and dead and gives it new life.

Our community is much like spring in that we are seeing tremendous “new life” in our landscape. Over the course of the next three to five years, our community landscape will change dramatically. Some of that change is already taking place with the expansion of the Northeast Georgia Medical Center main campus and the new campus in South Hall, the Halverson Development at Spout Springs Road in South Hall, and the development of a new Industrial Park that will serve new and expanding business. In addition, our downtown/midtown area has the potential to undergo a dramatic change over the course of the next 10 years with the redevelopment of Town View Plaza into City View Plaza and the relocation of the City of Gainesville Police and Fire Departments. Running parallel with these improvements, we could see a pedestrian bridge connecting downtown to the midtown area and pedestrian pathways that will make that same connection.

We have already seen the transformation that has taken place at the former Warren Featherbone facility, now “Communiversity” site for the Brenau Nursing School, the Interactive Neighborhood Kids museum and Lanier Tech’s Center for Innovation and Manufacturing Excellence. I make reference to these specific projects because in each instance of redevelopment and growth, leadership and courage were the overriding factors in making each successful. Each of these groups studied their respective projects while reaching out to the community to get input; however, at the end of the day, these projects will be successful or are already successful because of the courage of our community leaders.

It is my hope that our community leaders and those young leaders in training will not be fearful of stepping out and making the tough decisions that they know will be best for our community in the long run. In this month’s issue of the Business Link, you will find seven individuals who have been nominated to serve as elected board members for the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce. In the coming months, our Chair-Elect, R.K. Whitehead will present his slate of officers for 2008-2009. As members of the Chamber, I hope you will give this group your support and our community elected officials your support as they continue to work on improving our community.

I close with the following quote:

A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm.

– Henrik Ibsen

You can not complain about the progress taking place unless, of course, you are an active participant in the process. Be prepared to take the helm when called upon to serve your community, and get involved!