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Monday, Sept. 12, 2016

A BREAKFAST INVITATION FOR FORWARD THINKING

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The Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce seeks to connect leaders, to create best conditions for quality of life

An African proverb reads, “When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.” This is the foundation of “Connect” – a Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce initiative to build communication and trust between business, government, non-profit and education leadership in our community.

Connecting leaders is always going to be the first step to building on our assets and overcoming our barriers. Tapping our great potential begins with developing a set of common priorities for community improvement – change that creates the best conditions for business growth, job development and quality of life.

The longest-serving mayor in the country, Joseph Riley of Charleston, SC, said, “Change happens at the speed of trust.” Trust comes when we build relationships and work together with a common purpose.

This fall, we begin our “What’s Happening” Breakfast. This breakfast event will be a place for people to connect with other people who want to create a brighter future for Shreveport and Northwest Louisiana. The goal is to educate, energize and expand community leadership and develop trust between leaders through open discussion and accountability.

The first breakfast is Sept. 22 at the Shreveport Convention Center from 7:45 a.m. to 9 a.m. at a cost of $15 per breakfast. Future breakfast events will be held at the same place and time on the second Wednesday every other month – Nov. 9, Jan. 11, March 8, May 10 and July 12.

Each breakfast will feature a panel discussion of leaders on either general updates on what’s happening in the city or region or thematic presentations like economic development, law enforcement or education. The Sept. 22 breakfast will feature Mayor Ollie Tyler, Parish Administrator Woody Wilson and School Superintendent Lamar Goree. These three key leaders have committed to try to be at all breakfasts. At the first breakfast on Sept. 22, they will share their perspective on the three guiding questions of “Connect”:

• What’s working that we should expand on?

• What’s missing that, if provided, could make a difference in our community?

• What can we do to make Shreveport and Northwest Louisiana a better place to live and work?

Also during the fall, the 80 leaders that met in the spring and made up the Established and Emerging Leadership Councils will divide into four new councils based on the key priorities identified in the spring. These will be the councils on education, economic disparity, marketing Shreveport and economic development of Shreveport.

These councils will expand with more people who have passion in one of these areas. Those already working in these areas will find points of synergy and collaboration.

Many great ideas in these areas of interest have already been generated and recorded in our spring discussions.

These will help us to outline the initial objectives of each of these groups. There is a common vision of all people in our community to make Shreveport and Northwest Louisiana a place our children want to stay and where others want to come and call home. The place to start is to educate, energize and expand community leadership – more people working to create a brighter future for our largest city and our region as a whole. “Connect 2016” will start at that place and is outlined in Forum articles and a series of one-pagers on the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce website.

An Irish proverb reads, “You will never plow a field by turning it over in your mind.” The mission of the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce is to create the best conditions for business growth, job development and quality of life in our community. We can do that by developing pride in place by working together on community improvement.

Our job as leaders is to organize opportunities so more can participate.

Dr. Phillip Rozeman is chairman of the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce and leader of the Connect Initiative and past chair of Blueprint Louisiana.

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