As the year comes to a close, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Board Chairman Bill Lear says 2017 has been a whirlwind year that has shown the strength of the state’s largest business organization through advocacy and initiatives to further advance the Commonwealth.
Lear, chairman emeritus at Stoll Keenon Ogden, PLLC, was named Chairman of the Board of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce in October 2016, succeeding Kevin Canafax, vice president of Fidelity Investments’ Midwest Region.
In an interview with The Bottom Line about his year as chairman, Lear pointed to the number of significant issues tackled and achievements seen by the Chamber in 2017, which have received national recognition.
“This year has really underscored my opinion of just how strong the leadership of the Chamber is,” Lear said. “And the pinnacle, the crowning touch, of all that work was the Chamber being named the number one state Chamber in the United States.”
Lear referenced the many legislative victories for the business community seen during the 2017 session with the help of the Kentucky Chamber’s advocacy efforts. Lear, a former legislator, credited the General Assembly with the passage of critical pro-business legislation that has been part of the Chamber’s agenda for many years.
“I do think there will be plenty of work to do going forward, which the Kentucky Chamber will be a very big part of,” Lear said.
Discussing why the Chamber is valuable to businesses across the state, the outgoing chair said that while there are many benefits to membership with the organization, the advocacy efforts on behalf of the business community and network provided to members is immeasurable.
“The Chamber is the leading advocate for business in governmental circles, both in Frankfort and in Washington, D.C. Second, it is an organization which helps member businesses be better, both by exposing them to the best in new workforce programs and other matters of interest to their business, and in simply linking them together in a network of outstanding corporate citizens in Kentucky. And that applies to the biggest companies we have down to much smaller enterprises across the state,” Lear said.
Lear noted the work of the Chamber on other fronts as well including the creation of a Workforce Center to bring the voice of business to the table as employers struggle to meet their hiring needs, the exclusive news and information members receive through their involvement, and much more as reasons the Chamber stands out as an organization of which he feels businesses need to be a part.
“If you are a member, you ought to stay. If you aren’t a member, you ought to be. Because what the Chamber is all about is making Kentucky’s business climate better, making Kentucky’s economy stronger, and increasing wealth across the board for Kentucky’s citizens,” Lear said.
At the October meeting of the Kentucky Chamber Board of Directors, Lear will pass the leadership torch to Joe Craft, who has been named chair-elect for 2018. Craft is President and Chief Executive Officer of Alliance Resource Partners LP.