“Commerce Lexington Inc. has been known by different names since it was founded in 1881, originally the Chamber of Commerce, later the Board of Commerce, the Lexington Chamber of Commerce, and then the Greater Lexington Chamber of Commerce, but its mission has remained the same. Commerce Lexington operates as an advocate for businesses of all types and sizes. Since the very first board meeting in November 1881, the chamber has been involved in parallel issues like business recruitment and expansion, sanitary sewers and other infrastructure and transportation issues, and improving the area’s quality of life.
It’s often said that to get where you want to go, you have to first know where you’ve been. That sentiment couldn’t be more accurate when describing Lexington’s transformation over the last 100 years. Our history is filled with defining moments that changed our course and created the vibrant community and region that we enjoy today.
In many cases, it was the steadfast perseverance and vision of business and community leaders and elected officials coming together for a common cause that made things like Keeneland, Blue Grass Airport, Rupp Arena/ Lexington Center, the Kentucky Horse Park, Toyota in Georgetown and merged government a reality. If even one of those things doesn’t happen, then the Bluegrass Region that we know today would look vastly different.
It’s important that, as a community, we’re able to tell our story so that we never underestimate what we’re capable of accomplishing in the future. There were skeptics in the background in all of the items I referenced above, but in the end there were more community leaders in the forefront, who proceeded with confidence and determination to help shape us for the long term.
Who knew that someday there would be an ice rink in downtown Lexington? Or the Fifth Third Pavilion and Thursday Night Live? Or that we would host an NCAA Final Four or the World Equestrian Games? Or that the community would re-open the Lyric Theatre or build the Legacy Trail? Or that we would be home to iconic brands like Amazon, Tempur-Pedic, Tiffany & Co., Lexmark, Toyota and others?
Because our community has a history of turning visions into realities and achieving success in the face of challenges, we believe and expect that we will continue to do so. And, Commerce Lexington Inc. will be there every step of the way, whether it is leading, assisting or facilitating, to address the issues and goals now before the community – from helping to resolve our pension and sanitary sewer issues, to equipping our businesses with the tools they need to succeed, to partnering with our K-12 and higher education institutions and participating in the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement (BEAM) initiative.
If we remember our history and embrace our future, then 100 years from now, our business and community leaders will reflect on what we accomplished today that ultimately changed the course of our region for the better. Thank you for the opportunity to be your 2013 Commerce Lexington Inc. Board Chair. I look forward to serving in the trenches with you.”
2013 Commerce Lexington Inc. Board Chair
Assistant Dean of Administration & Community Engagement
University of Kentucky College of Law