Attorney Bob Bivins is no stranger to the economic pressures felt by businesses large and small in Brandon.
He stressed that point at the onset of his first public speech as the newly named chair of the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce, at the group's Feb. 3 membership dinner at HCC at The Regent.
"The last several years have been a real challenge, for all of us," Bivins said, as noted in the video that accompanies this post. "The fact of the matter is that we are in a different environment now than we thought could possibly even exist back in 2006."
Bivins asked the close to 300 attendees to consider the state of affairs just six years ago.
"Everything was booming," he said. "The economy was great, there were home prices going through the roof. As an attorney that counsels businesses, I can attest to you guys, whatever challenges you have, you are not alone."
He noted that every day he talks to clients whose credit loans have been cut, "or they're out there trying to do more with a third less staff, or they're having to rebuild a customer base that got decimated by the economy."
As he moves from the one-year position of chair-elect to chair, Bivins gave his assessment of the situation today, noting that with "the end of the boom time" came "the beginning of the leaner times," through which the chamber and its members are best served together.
"We had to adapt our business, just like a lot of you had to adapt yours," he added, noting the law firm he and his partner moved from Tampa to Brandon in 2007.
"But what we saw when we moved to Brandon was very interesting to me, which was a level of resilience, a true sense of community, the fact that businesses and people in this community genuinely wanted to help and support each other. We’re all stronger together than we are separately."
In effect, Bivins said, "that's what the chamber is all about."
The chamber "is nothing more than a crucible for its members," Bivins said. "It's a vessel where we can all come together and educate each other, share resources and make ourselves stronger and sometimes just help each other and give each other a pep talk. Whether it's business training, whether it's networking events, whether it's cross-referral arrangements, this chamber is dedicated to help businesses in just the types of times that we are experiencing now."