A Look Back at 2020

Happy New Year!  2020 might be a year some of us want to forget.  It brought with it many challenges as our chamber team, our members, along with the rest of the world faced an unprecedented pandemic called COVID-19.

As we look back on this past year, it amazes me how our businesses showed incredible resilience and found ways to adapt to the most strenuous work environment.  We figured out how to communicate effectively through new platforms like Zoom.  We were forced to audit our organizations and think bigger about how we are going to operate in this brave new world called COVID.

Although this has been a tough time for the chamber team and for many of our members, we are thankful for the lessons learned and the changes made that will help our organizations get better post pandemic.  Despite COVID-19, the chamber was blessed to be able to keep our offices open through most of the year which helped us to stay focused on the key elements of the strategic vision plan and prepared the organization for a significant brand change (Coming Soon to a Theater Near You) and a total website re-work. 

We also continued to work closely with key community stakeholders to help move the community forward.  Here is a snapshot of the projects we worked on in 2020:

  • Quickly developed and communicated critical COVID Resources to our members at the beginning and throughout the pandemic. 
  • Developed a “Keep Calm & Carry Out” site to help our hard-hit restaurants that included video production, hard mailers, point-of-purchase displays, LED billboard, and gift card giveaways thru social media.
  • Launched “Open for Business” and “Size Up” big data for Small Business.
  • Convened a group of key stakeholders to help move Combined Dispatch forward.  City and County residents will benefit from a new $5M state-of-the-art county-wide dispatch center, and the city will save more than $700,000 per year under the new arrangement.  This is a huge win for our citizens, and every entity involved throughout the county.
  • Led a group of investors to help launch The Hub Springfield, an Issue Media once per week e-mail publication that is being used to help build a positive perception of all that is happening throughout our community and a treasure trove of content to help market Greater Springfield to the people who live here, as well as to the people who will choose to live here. 
  • Invested $15,000 in Zoom technology in order to deliver increased value to our members during this unprecedented pandemic.  We touched more than 6,000 Members and key stakeholders in 2020, through more than 600 Meetings.
  • Coordinated and conducted the most successful Economic & Workforce Development Expand 2024 Campaign in the organization’s history, raising more than $4M over the next five years.
  • In partnership with DJFS, hired Kendra Burnside, Talent and Education Coordinator, who is already doing amazing work connecting our county-wide schools and businesses in support of YOU Science Platform integration
  • In partnership with City of Springfield, hired John Kelly, Community Events Coordinator, to help build on a growing number of events happening in and around downtown.
  • Helped facilitate County’s $3M Rural Broadband Expansion plan through our strong relationship with Spectrum.
  • Continued to successfully execute the Farmer’s Market and Holiday in the City events even during COVID.  The HITC Committee, with the help of Beth Goodrich, raised more than $80,000 that helped us purchase approximately 500,000 new Christmas lights for Downtown.
  • Continued to operate The Champion City Guide & Supply Store, a popular place to buy Springfield branded items that help build a more positive perception of Springfield.
  • Continued to help lead efforts to help stimulate downtown redevelopment, including the newly opened CoHatch. 
  • Led downtown wayfinding committee and public mural art group that has added two murals, wrapped 7 utility boxes, and placed branded signage highlighting key attractions throughout downtown and ring neighborhoods.
  • Designed and completed a new pocket park in downtown.
  • Led “Building a Vibrant Community” Stakeholder group to help implement some of the key takeaways from Quint Studer’s visit.  EngageSpringfield.org, the community’s dashboard, Springfield Hustles (Entrepreneur Shark Tank), and our version of Civicon called Springfield Speaks, have been implemented to date.
  • Tirelessly advocated for a downtown parking garage and it was finally accomplished in 2020 (YES!!!)

Even during COVID, this is a unique window of opportunity and season of momentum for our community that we have not experienced in decades.  Community leaders continue to pull together to THINK BIGGER about what it will take to WIN TOGETHER.  As we place COVID in our rear-view mirror, we are prepared to build upon the momentum that has taken hold in our community.  Outsiders are taking notice of our community’s recent accomplishments, and there is much more planned for the years ahead.

Our veteran team continues to help lead the efforts of creating a better business ecosystem that is helping to build a more sustainable, vibrant community in the future.  Thank you for your continued investment in this chamber and our community.

In 2021 and beyond, WE WILL WIN TOGETHER!