North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL


October 22, 2010

Business AdVise

Senator visit shows communities can work together for good of all

COMMENTARY — We had a packed house at the Fairfield Inn here in Fultondale this week as our North Jefferson community welcomed a visit from our senator, Jeff Sessions.

Sen. Sessions and his team helped to “Bring Washington Home” as we titled our event by not only updating us on his work in Washington, but also by being very open in this forum to one-on-one questions from the audience. It is my opinion, and one that was echoed by audience members, that it takes a certain measure of bravery and backbone to meet your constituents at such a personal level.

And why shouldn’t an elected official be comfortable talking to constituents in this manner? After all, we did elect them. It is what we in business affectionately call “management by walking around.”  

You can not get the feel of the factory or really any business by hanging out in the corner big office. You have to get out where the real work is done, talk to your employees, or in this case the voters, and take their pulse. Spending time in the field will allow business leaders as well as governmental leaders an enhanced ability to deliver on the hard questions when asked, and take the knowledge of their deep consumer or voter needs to heart.

Washington will indeed be a bit better when some homegrown Alabama gets taken back to keep it on track and on target.  

We are fortunate to have this type of leadership and representation in Washington for our state. Did you know that as a budget committee member, the senator is dubbed a “budget hawk” and strives to limit government spending and champion tax cuts for American families?  

As a member of the senate judiciary committee, he works to ensure that judges are confirmed who do not legislate from the bench, but judge from the bench.

As a member of the senate armed forces committee, he leads by example in support of our troops. As a member of the energy committee, he has the opportunity to develop policies that will support independent and reliable sources of energy.

In 2008, Sessions was elected to his third six-year term with more votes cast for him than any Republican in Alabama history.

The opportunity to have a visit by his type of Washington leadership is indeed significant, but in my mind, the really big opportunity lies in bringing together the North Jefferson businesses and governmental leadership for the common purpose of driving growth in our area. Those on the outside looking in know that we have a rare opportunity to learn from the trial and error of other growth areas in our state, so let’s work together to get it right.

In speaking with the senator, we discussed the global marketplace and the need to stay competitive as a state, which is certainly true. As the saying goes, “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.”

We will only be as strong as our weakest neighboring community, so it is incumbent on us to support and partner strategically with each other. This event was a rare privilege to have such strong leaders from all of our communities in the audience with representation from not only Fultondale, but Gardendale, Brookside, Birmingham, Morris and several others.  

A united vision of what we will look like in five, 25 or 50 years remains to be seen, but it will only begin when our community leaders get together in the same room for a common purpose. Seek out opportunities to engage and be involved in our growth and development, and participation in your local chamber of commerce may be the best place to start.

It is not only intelligent to do so from a civic perspective, but consumers think it is intelligent as well. In fact, according to Market Street Research, 59 percent of consumers feel participation by a business in their chamber of commerce is a smart business strategy.  

More importantly, again according to Market Street Research, when a company participates in its local chamber, it creates embedded value as perceived by the consumer and they are 63 percent more likely to purchase goods or services from that company in the future.  

I look forward to seeing you at the next chamber event. Stay in touch and stay involved.

And remember, take care of your customers, or someone else will.  

You can find additional readings on my blog at Teresa works for Sanofi-Aventis Pharmaceuticals and supports the Fultondale Chamber of Commerce. The next meeting of the Fultondale Chamber will be held in November. Please join us by calling (205) 337-1629 or email to

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