A Letter from the CEO

Reflecting on 2020, Looking Ahead to 2021 

by Anne Gill

2020 was truly an unforeseen year for business and the health and safety of our community. Many of us have been through different kinds of natural disasters, but the depth of what a global pandemic can do was unlike anything we had ever experienced. As the year has ended, it is essential to reflect on its impact on our community, and the outlook for 2021. 

Looking Back on 2020

This spring, the COVID-19 pandemic surprised all of us, and the way we operated shifted dramatically. The pandemic forced us to immediately adapt, adjust and pivot, as well as continuing to be flexible in unknown territory as the year progressed.

However, the Tempe Chamber seized the opportunity to redefine our role during this time. The obstacles we faced, and continue to face, are challenging. However, these challenges inspired our team to innovate and create opportunities for a brighter path toward positive change.

In a matter of days, my team was quick to adapt to a virtual world — from community connections to programs and events to working remotely. The team embraced new technology so that the Tempe Chamber could continue to support our businesses and the community during the pandemic.

We provided a series of webinars to inform businesses of funding programs and opportunities, as well as how to navigate the new regulations created by the CARES Act. Our COVID-19 Resource page on our website became the one-stop shop for vetted and reliable information for our members and business community. 

We were the first chamber to introduce live, interactive broadcast events to keep our members and community connected to our elected officials and to programs focused on business success. This year, we launched our new Business Academy, announced our partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on a national initiative to address inequality of opportunity, and continued to advocate for businesses at every level of government.

Throughout the pandemic, we have continued to lead by example and support other organizations and community efforts along the way. Our team worked together with the City of Tempe, The Downtown Tempe Authority and the Tempe Tourism office to develop programs to support our business community, including microloans as well as a shop local platform. 

Looking Ahead to 2021

As the Tempe Chamber moves into 2021, we will continue to focus on our workforce initiatives, such as Career Ready Tempe, while stepping up our advocacy efforts on behalf of the business community. We will continue to focus on our problem-solving strategy for our members and advocate for economic recovery and resiliency in policies that ease regulations, allowing our members to thrive. As businesses deal with the challenges the global pandemic created, the need for a strong advocacy voice is more important than ever. 

Our ability to connect people and advocate for business allows us to continue serving our members. In January, we will be hosting our annual Leadership Speaker Series, Lessons for Life & Leadership, which will offer practical advice on leading in today’s world. In the New Year, the Tempe Chamber will continue to host dialogues with business and community leaders to discuss concrete actions that can be taken by government and the private sector to address inequality through education, employment, entrepreneurship and criminal justice reform.

The future of the Tempe Chamber is bright, and our outlook remains positive. The lessons we have learned because of the global crisis have informed the Chamber’s core work, and we will carry these lessons forward to provide critical support for our business community. I am proud of the way the Tempe community has come together to support each other in many ways, including patronizing our local merchants and restaurants and volunteering for and donating to Tempe nonprofits. To advocate for and represent the business community is of the utmost privilege, and we will push forward, together, now and well into 2021.

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