Happy New Year! I hope that you all had a wonderful holiday season and are back and ready for another great year ahead. This turn of the calendar also brings us to the start of a new decade, with possibilities and opportunities wide open ahead of us. What will this decade bring to Richland County? Only time will tell but let me offer a few of my own wishes for the next decade:
- Continued Job Growth – We’ve come a long way since the start of the last decade. At that time, Richland County’s unemployment rate was 14.4%, the most recently available numbers have us around 4.3% currently. That’s a wonderful improvement, but we know that we must continue to trend in a positive direction.
- Turning Around Population Loss – The Census will be conducted in 2020 and we’ll have a new updated count of our County’s population. It has declined every year since 2000…except in 2018, we are showing a slight gain again (yay!). Can this be the start of a permanent turnaround? We hope so. We need more workers, taxpayers, and citizens to help us continue to improve the area. We don’t want to lose our “big city amenities, with a small-town feel” that we have going on, but there is no question that many of the financial challenges we have stem from population loss.
- Continued Increase in Collaboration – We are better together, it’s as simple as that. In today’s economy, we are competing against the world. We don’t have time to compete against each other. When one community wins, others see benefits too. In all areas, we need to continue to increase the spirit of collaboration that has begun to take hold.
- More People Helping, Less People Complaining – Yep. I said it. I am the glutton who reads the comments on the internet when stories are posted. If everyone who so easily trashes our area online would roll up their sleeves to help, imagine the changes we could see! There is room for healthy debate when decisions are being made, but needlessly second-guessing everything doesn’t help anyone.
- Stronger Community Pride – This is sort of related to my previous wish, but also more than that. This is an AMAZING community! I’ve lived in several and visited many more. We have so much to be proud of here. And if you’re waiting for us to attain perfection before you show pride…then you’ll be waiting forever. There is no perfect community! We are all working together to move ours forward, but we shouldn’t wait to be proud. #RichlandRocks
- Strong Leadership – We need continued strong leadership in every facet of our community. Government officials, non-profit executives, big business CEO’s and small business owners, coaches, pastors, teachers, editors, and so many more areas. This affects all of us. Strong leaders have strong organizations, which help strengthen the community. May we all wish for this!
- More Kindness – To work together better, we need to be kind to each other. That means giving people the benefit of the doubt, perhaps inconveniencing yourself to help someone else, and putting others needs ahead of your own. There have been some amazing stories of people going above and beyond with their generosity and giving spirit…may we all aspire to do better in this area!
I could probably add more but I’ll stop there. For the Chamber, we’re looking forward to another prosperous year here locally. Seriously, we could not do the things we do without the support of each of you…our members. This is YOUR organization. I hope you’re proud of the work we are doing collectively! You each have my sincere best wishes for a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2020!