Do your part to define south metro community

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As chairman of the South Metro Denver Chamber Board of Directors, I’d like to thank everyone who’s shared thoughts and ideas with me over the years. It is apparent many have a deep appreciation of what we all cherish about this special place — a feeling that our unique shops, restaurants, and storefronts are what set us apart from Everywhere USA.

The South Metro Chamber is now in its 100th year. We all are the beneficiaries of generations working together to create our thriving business community. Those who came before took pride in character and diversity and championed a business ecosystem that balances a foundation provided by large corporations with contributions brought by local, small entrepreneurs making their own way.

It’s a balance that isn’t easy to maintain, and it’s ever-changing.

The businesses, both big and small, that mean the most to our community are the ones that make active investments in our schools, roads, parks and culture. It’s more than sponsoring an occasional event for their own interests — it’s an investment of the heart that sustains our community. It’s an investment in us.

Many corporations all over America look for areas like ours with established infrastructure so they can plant their flag and cash in. They take advantage of our quality but remain at arm’s length in our communities. Should their shareholders decide to chase bigger profits elsewhere, it’s easy and attractive to take the bait. This is not what we want.

We support local restaurants, shops, service providers and risk takers in the south metro community because they’re us. Their kids go to school with ours. They put their reputations on the line with every customer they serve. They bet on their dream every day. We want their success, as it is ours.

It is critical that we grow our region and preserve its character at the same time; else beige, boring strip malls and cubist architecture make us just like every other roadside. Historic relevance will be replaced by cut-and-paste floor plans. Family-owned restaurants will become faceless franchises. We risk losing our charm.

It’s our turn now. We get to choose what our future will bring. If we don’t stand up to define our future, our uniqueness will slip away, and we’ll be just another suburb living in the sprawl.

I don’t expect everyone reading this to agree with me. If anything, dig in and join in the conversation. Go to BestChamber.com and consider joining the SMDC. Be a part of our solution. Build remarkable relationships with those who make us great. Expand your influence by coming to one of our events, talking to our members— you know many of them already— and seeing for yourself how great communities invest in each other.

Heart is what drives success. We have one that’s worth keeping.

Andrew Graham is chairman of the South Metro Denver Chamber Board of Directors until September 2019, a three-time entrepreneur, and CEO of Clinic Service. He and his wife, Megan, live in Littleton with their four children.

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