From Kristin Craig: What Has Been Accomplished, What’s Next, How Can We Work Together?

The Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce welcomed Kristin Craig as the new President of the Chamber, beginning July 1. To mark her first week, Craig looks to the recent accomplishments and future goals of the organization.

“There is no greater power than a community discovering what it cares about.” – Meg Wheatley

I moved here almost twenty years ago to attend Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and just recently, crossed the threshold of having lived more of my life in West Central Indiana than anywhere else. I adamantly refer to this side of the state as “home” and my husband and I are raising three very proud

Since then, I’ve had the incredible opportunity to work for the Chamber for most of my professional career. Without a doubt, it has become more than just a place to draw a paycheck, it became my connection to the world around me, an integral part of my identity.

But most importantly, it provides me an understanding of what makes a community tick. How progress is achieved. What causes setbacks. It’s not just one person, nor one organization that drives this conversation, it’s the way everyone – business, government, education, nonprofit – moves together. It
reminds me of a dance, it’s not enough than everyone memorizes their own part, it’s about moving in unison, knowing each other’s steps, having their timing together. If you’re like me and have no rhythm, the whole things looks messy and uncoordinated, but more importantly, accomplishes nothing.

So what’s my point here, other than I clearly am not a talented dancer? It’s that everyone has to come together in order for success to be achieved.

On a roll. Making progress. Opportunities abound. Verge of greatness.

In the past few months I’ve heard all of these phrases, and countless other similar ones, many times. In fact, if you’ve watched me do a television interview lately, you’ve probably heard them come out of my own mouth. And while it sometimes feels like I’m repeating myself, it is the kind of repetitiveness that never gets tiring.

So, what has happened? How did Terre Haute, Vigo County, West Central Indiana get its groove back?

No, we didn’t take mass dance lessons… although I think Brandon Halleck* might like that idea.

We started to prioritize our thinking. We realized there is far more power in working together than operating in singular, isolated silos. New voices in leadership emerged. Pieces of the puzzle started fitting together, things started clicking in ways they hadn’t before.

From the perspective of the Chamber, I’ve seen it happen first-hand. We went from worrying about the small stuff to tackling the bigger issues. Our 42-person board of directors came together in support of several key projects, one of those being the active pursuit of a casino in Vigo County. We embraced regionalism in a real and meaningful way and created a six-county collaborative that is digging into critical quality-of-life issues. We created an internal marketing and event machine that cranks out meaningful business development opportunities for every business in the region. We’ve embraced downtown as the living room of our community. Next month, we will release a collaborative, inclusive and game-changing community plan.

So, where do we go from here? Let’s go back to that slightly awkward dance analogy. I think we’ve perfected one dance, but now we need to step it up to something more complicated. And this is where things get tricky and we might start to step on each other’s toes. But if we continue to align our goals,
then we can keep the rhythm and dance into success.

I’ll end with another quote that perfectly describes the work of the Chamber…
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Now, with that, let’s Cha Cha!

Kristin Craig is President of the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce, a position she has held since July 1, A native of Illinois, she is now a proud Hoosier.

She is not a dancer, but her co-worker, Jessica Cox, is and will be competing in Terre Haute’s Dancing with the Stars this October, a benefit that is chaired by
a truly talented dance instructor, Brandon Halleck, and in benefit of Chances and Services for Youth.

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