Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
The last week of 2020 has been a short, quiet week…which is nice and a good way to finish what has been the most crazy, hectic year I can remember in my life!! I should qualify this a little…it’s been a year of fear, uncertainty. A year in which we fought a major pandemic and then fought each other over diversity and racism, the elections, and masks – the wearing or not-wearing of. We helped each other in unprecedented ways, learned new technology tricks, worked from home…and I’ll bet everyone has been told at least once, “you’ve got your mute button on!!”   
 
Zoom was/is the new normal, no shaking hands, stand on the dots, and probably most everyone has had a day when they felt a little off and your first thought was, “I wonder if I have COVID?” Uncertainty has been more the rule than surety…and, if not yourself, I bet we all know someone or some family whose lives have been changed forever because of the sickness or a death. 
 
No…suffice to say – I’m glad this is the last day of 2020! I’m ready to put it in the rearview mirror and move on. I’m anxious for the vaccine…you should call and get on the list for your shot (the number is: 785.229.3531). Let’s beat this pandemic and get back to the business at hand of helping our community grow and improve. 
 
COVID Update:
 
The COVID numbers are continuing down in Franklin County…good news!! The number of positive cases has gone down from 186 a week ago to 142 (down 44!) and the positivity rate is dropping too (no new deaths). In the last 2-weeks the positivity rate has been 18.01% down from 23.4% the month of November. All this is great news…and our healthcare and frontline workers are getting vaccinated. Here is the report from Wednesday, December 23.
 
Also…the federal government finally coalesced around a second relief package and President Trump (despite threatening to veto the legislation) signed it into law last Sunday. Here are some of the specifics…I’m sure we will continue to get additional information as we move forward. Bottom line…everyone can expect an additional $600.00 in direct relief aid (with possibly another $1,400.00 coming soon) and there have been new money appropriated for the Payroll Protection Program (PPP). When I get more information I will share it with you. 
 
Chamber Annual Gathering: 
 
We continue plans and preparations for the Chamber’s annual gathering…I stop short of saying annual meeting because it will be so different than year’s previous. We are working with PrimeTime Grille to host the event which will run from January 22-January 28. When you purchase a ticket you will receive a $25.00 gift card to either PrimeTime Grille or Fusion Alley plus some great Ottawa swag. The Ottawa give-away gifts came in this week…I think it all looks great. Additionally our annual auction will be set up in one of the party rooms at the Grille…open to everyone to view and bid electronically.
 
I hope you can/will support this event. We feel it is a safe environment and one in which we can enjoy an evening out and maybe at least wave at a few friends and neighbors. Additionally I’ll add the banquet and auction are always the Chamber’s largest fundraiser of the year…proceeds from the annual gathering and auction help us provide all the programming and activities which the Chamber delivers to the community. We need your help to make this a successful event so we can continue to support the great Ottawa community. You can get registered for your ticket and swag here
   
Christmas:
 
Our family wasn’t able to all be together this year…our daughter’s family in Cedar Vale have COVID. They are getting along fine but quarantining. They are past the worst when they had fevers, headaches and earaches…now mostly fatigue and recovery. Here are a couple of our Christmas pictures.   
 
2020 is a Wrap:
 
I began my message today by dissing this year…there have been good things too. The Chiefs won the Super Bowl…and we have watched some great football games with Patrick Mahomes’ magic, flair and “never say die” attitude. We have all become a little more tech-savvy…with very little effort we were able to move all our Chamber’s electronic files so we can now access them from home, receive phone calls from the office and check our messages. Everyone can Zoom now – and while I greatly miss seeing and reacting to others in-person at a meeting…Zooming is a time saver and allows more flexibility within a day. Can you imagine another time in our history when we could have accomplished as much while quarantining? 
 
We learned to be more safe, school happened from home and…if you are like me, you have checked things off your “to-do” list which has lingered for years. Most have developed new hobbies or habits…albeit gardening, cooking, crafts, fishing, reading or exercising to name a few. And we should mention the speed at which a vaccine has been researched and developed…and will hopefully bring this infestation and most of the craziness to an end.   
 
At the end of the day, we probably should admit a little chaos in our lives from time to time is positive…especially when we are looking back in retrospect and not living it in the moment. My wish is we accomplish a quieter period in 2021…tame the chaos and moved forward as a more enlightened society. 
 
Happy New Year!! Don’t stay up too late or party too hard – we still have a lot of work to do in 2021!!
 
Talk to you next week (actually next year!!)…
 
Onward ~ John 
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000