I’m thrilled for the year ahead. If you had asked me this time last year, what our focus would be in 2017, I would have had a tough time articulating anything unique beyond a continuation of the amazing routine work of the Chamber. Then PG&E announced the closure of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant and suddenly it was very clear what our focus needed to be. While I’m so grateful our community has eight years to prepare for this change, the clock is ticking! We need to bring about changes in the next few years if we are going to successfully absorb the loss of 1,500 jobs in eight.

Under my predecessors, the Chamber has lit a spark among a new generation of community leaders.  I’m so grateful to see this passion and creativity at the table for the decisions that are to come. And further aiding in that conversation, last year’s Board took a bold step in hiring the Chamber’s first staff member dedicated to economic initiatives development and regional advocacy. Adding Melissa James to the bench expands our capability to be the voice of business in this critical time.

In 2017, your Board of Directors will be keenly focused on strategies and initiatives that support a thriving local economy.  As we “ask what’s possible,” we’ll be taking a trip to learn from a place that has creatively and successfully tackled a problem that our community faces. Our study and discussion will ultimately inform an update to our Economic Vision, a document that includes both principles and strategy that will guide the Chamber’s efforts for years to come.

I’m passionate about this community and am committed to its long term vitality. We need a diverse economy made up of stable businesses in order to protect our quality of life. But it doesn’t happen by accident; it takes deliberate and thoughtful action to shape a community. You can be assured your Chamber Board and Staff have the “Grit to Achieve What We Believe In.”

It’s gonna be a great year . . .

Ryan Caldwell is the 2017 Chair of the SLO Chamber Board of Directors, and a wealth advisor and partner at Wacker Wealth Partners. He can be reached at ryan.caldwell@wackerwealthpartners.com