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Reflection is always an essential part of planning for the future. What has given us strength? What have we overcome? What milestones have we reached? As we put 2020 behind us, what will help us to move forward and embrace new opportunities? What values and experiences have defined us? What has shaped our behaviours and actions? Reflecting on the challenges of the past can shape our opportunities ahead.

The Chamber's 120-year history also speaks to the strength and resiliency of our businesses. In May 1900, the Medicine Hat Board of Trade was formed. As we reflect on our history, our foundation was and is to promote and improve trade, commerce and the economic, civic and social welfare of our district.

Business opportunities have resulted from a region rich with natural resources, including gas, clay and the longest growing season in the province. A diverse economy with agriculture, manufacturing, milling and military, coupled with alignment to a railway, waterway, and well-connected roads. This development shaped our community. Despite world wars, the Spanish influenza, the stock market crash and the great depression, droughts and floods and the boom-bust cycles of our economy, we have survived.

As well stated in a historic context paper through the City's Historic resources, 'Over its history Medicine Hat has been 'branded' with numerous monikers, which have all alluded to Medicine Hat's economic development and prosperity. However, it is the people and their spirit and philosophy that made the city an early success and continue to drive Medicine Hat forward. Medicine Hat's stable development from railway tent settlement to town to city has continued even during periods of economic instability, attributed to the SPIRIT OF MEDICINE HAT. We nurture economic diversity, local ingenuity and have calculated risk-takers [and entrepreneurs as part of the fabric of our community]. Residents of Medicine Hat are community-minded with a strong volunteer spirit, reflected by the variety and depth of community organizations, groups, and societies. They exhibit the best aspects of a 'small town mindset' but are not encumbered or limited by it. It is our people that carry us forward through our city's ongoing growth and development.[i]'

The unanticipated and difficult challenges of 2020 will shape our story moving forward. From loss, both personal and monetary, isolation and heartache, to overwhelm and uncertainty, we recognize everyone has a story that has impacted them through this and it is our spirit of our community that will carry us through.

Like so many, we understand the challenges of doing more with less, experiencing financial difficulty, and navigating subsidies while managing resources. Our team has also struggled with loss, mental health, uncertainty, and remote work challenges. We have to change our operations and business plans, determine ways to survive and continue to find ways to shape the legacy of our community, businesses and organizations. Our strength and dedication to keep calm and carry on through it all comes from those we serve.

Our commitment is to remain a reliable, trusted and solution-focused resource sought out by our members, community and Government. We have connected with our networks, locally, provincially and nationally and with all levels of Government about the challenges and issues that have resulted from restrictions and the identified gaps in funding. We have connected businesses and individuals to resources and supports they need and consolidated resources and information to make it just a little bit easier.

We know we can build our community by building our businesses. We need to tap into the spirit of Medicine Hat and as a community, unite to get through this. Our business network is our strength, with over 200,000 businesses and Chambers across this Country with a common purpose to recover and rebuild once again. We can leverage this incredibly powerful network across our community, province, and Country. We can help get through this with connections, various supports and our influence, united in the effort to strengthen our local economy and put Local First.

In January 2020, my message was about our outlook, before knowing what was in store for 2020. We have stayed true to our commitments, although it's a different path than expected. The Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce can be your partner moving forward, supplying the connections, support, and influence that will encourage and support our recovery for both businesses and our community. Our 120-year history proves we can do it, but we can't do it alone. We are stronger together.


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