As October turns to November, it becomes a time of reflection for me. Spring is a season of awakening and renewal. Sunny days and the lush green beauty of our river valley give way to all too soon to autumn with cool evenings, frosty morns and the bounty of the earth.
November is when we, the citizens, vote and decide the direction of our government. November also is Veterans Day, a time to remember the men and women who served to ensure our freedom. November ends with Thanksgiving, a time for celebrating family, friends and acknowledging the many gifts we have.
My birthday is in mid-November, so this month marks the passing of another year of my life's journey, and another reason for reflection. What a year it has been: health issues took center stage in my family with many hours spent in hospitals and nursing homes. I've learned more than I wanted to know about heart surgery, pacemakers, pain management, detached retinas, assisted living, and more. Chamber members also struggled with health issues and we lost some good friends this year.
There were a lot of challenges and changes, both personally and professionally. When I started working computers were mysterious big boxes housed in specially designed rooms. We sent letters and made phone calls and it wasn't too difficult to get through my inbox each day. Now I need to go through the mail in my inbox, read and respond to email plus check Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and various websites. Few of us ever imagined a world of instant connectivity: the shot heard around the world is now the tweet on Twitter or the post on Facebook.
Many of the area businesses have been challenged by our economic downturn. The chamber is not exempt from economic uncertainty. The MACC board of directors and staff are keenly aware that our member companies are going through tough times and we are expanding chamber programs and services to help businesses survive and thrive in these times. Some examples: Tech Tuesday brings together experts in different fields to help chamber members understand and use new tech trends and tools. The monthly Professional Women's Roundtable offers a luncheon with topics of special interest to women in the workplace. The chamber offered a candidate's debate and met with elected officials to share the business perspective. We worked on other challenges: health care, environmental regulations, zoning laws, and a myriad of other governmental directives.
As I reflect on this past year, it was a year of change. As 2011 ends, I can look back and be grateful. My family's health has improved and the prognosis is good. Friends with serious health problems have gotten good news. While many businesses are still struggling, there are signs of a recovery and certainly new opportunities resulting from the oil and gas exploration in our region. I could not have foreseen the changes this year has brought, but I am quite confident that there will be many more changes ahead. What matters most is our ability to adapt to the changes and challenges coming.
Benjamin Franklin said, "When you're finished changing, you're finished." Well, I'm not finished yet and neither is the Mid-Ohio Valley.
Charlotte Keim, CCEO-AP, is president of the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce, The Riverview Building, 100 Front St., Suite 200, Marietta. Chamber Viewpoint appears every other Monday on Opinion.