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  • A Letter to the South Tampa Community

    A Letter to the South Tampa Community
    As this first week of June comes to an end, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the sad and painful events happening in our nation and our community. We are listening, and we see and hear the frustration that many are feeling. I assure you that the South Tampa Chamber is committed to helping create a more inclusive business community. 
    Over the past few months, we have faced several challenges. Despite these difficulties, we proudly saw our community come together to support each other through this unprecedented time. We pivoted quickly and used virtual platforms to provide our business community with the tools and information needed to navigate the ever-changing conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It's been exciting to see our business community adapting and innovating like never before!
    And, now, in the midst of beginning to reopen, we witnessed the unnecessary violence that resulted in the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. We send our deepest sympathy to the families, friends, and communities that are grieving. We also acknowledge there is a larger conversation that needs to take place. These senseless acts of violence are a painful reminder that we, as a nation, still have much work to do. Change begins with each of us stepping up to do our part to create an inclusive community, free of all forms of hatred and discrimination. 
    There is no one solution to this problem and we commit to work side by side with our members, partners, and the greater Tampa Bay community in the coming weeks, months and years to create lasting change and equality for all. We recognize that statements such as this do not mean much unless they are followed by action.
    This week, our chamber's leadership team came together to begin a dialogue about diversity, racism, and systemic oppression. We have spent this time listening and learning and will continue this practice to better understand the challenges that our community is facing.
    Additionally, we have committed to partner with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on the National Initiative to Address Inequality of Opportunity. On June 25th, we will join Chambers of Commerce from across the country as part of a national town hall. Community leaders will discuss concrete actions that can be taken by the government and the private sector to address inequality through education, employment, entrepreneurship, and criminal justice reform. As a partner on this important initiative, we have also committed to hosting local and industry dialogues to further the discussion.
    In the meantime, we will continue to listen to the voices in our community who deserve to be heard, and we encourage others to pause and listen as well.
    As always, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments, concerns, feedback, or to share helpful resources. We are all in this together. Together we can do better.
    Kelly Flannery, FCCP
    President & CEO