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‘What’s the most we can do?’ Business consultant encourages Huron to work together

Posted: Monday, Mar 25th, 2013

Huron Mayor David McGirr accepts the Distinguished Civil Service Award from Heartland United Way Executive Director Rhonda Kludt. In the next photo, Lynn Schneider of American Bank & Trust speaks after the bank received the Mayor’s Award for Excellence during the Huron Chamber & visitors Bureau joint annual meeting with Greater Huron Development Corporation held Thursday evening in the Plains ballroom. PHOTOS COURTESY HURON CHAMBER AND VISITORS BUREAU

HURON — The intellect is already here.

In the middle of … everywhere.

A business consultant who has worked with community chambers of commerce in Oregon, Washington and Idaho says Huron is blessed with talent and with driven business owners, but agrees with a local chamber and economic development corporation goal of inviting more people to the table.

“You can play a better game of Scrabble if you have two people looking at it,” Patrick McGaughey of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, said in his message at the joint annual meeting of the Greater Huron Development Corporation and Huron Chamber & Visitors Bureau Thursday evening. Nearly 300 people attended.

“It’s wonderful for a consultant to be able to come in and be an outside set of eyes, but the one thing that smart consultants already know is the genius is already here,” he said.

After working as a radio announcer, McGaughey became chamber director in The Dalles, Ore., in 1984. He spent his first day on the job conferring with the economic development director, and that evening was confronted by a local businessman at a chamber mixer.

The man asked McGaughey what he planned to do about a number of community needs.

“I said we have one of the most premier communities to have economic development, we’re just not shovel ready,” he replied.

They agreed to work together on a $4.5 million bond issue. As a result, they landed over 800 jobs in the small town. It didn’t happen overnight, and instead took years, but 300 of those jobs were created when Google came to town.

“We all get to write on our tombstone, we left this place better than we found it,” he said.

McGaughey had spent the day in Huron with chamber and economic development officials.

“I believe the chamber of commerce is the most powerful, powerless organization ever created,” he said.

It can’t make laws, but the chamber can circle the wagons and speak powerfully as one on behalf of the entire business community when there is a need on the local, state or national level.

“I’ve had the blessing over the years to stop and see lives changed, communities changed, because of this little organization most of us don’t understand,” McGaughey said.

Two things that make chambers of commerce successful are members and money. Keys to economic development are transportation and education, he said.

“Education is the enemy of poverty,” he said.

He encouraged residents to take pride in Huron, and to reject negativity.

“The things that I’ve seen generated in this little community in the middle of … everywhere. In the middle of everywhere, not in the middle of nowhere,” he said.

When he moved to Idaho to take a chamber job in 1990 he found an article on his desk that had been written by the owner of a large hotel in town. The author had pointed out that Florida, and not Idaho, was the No. 1 tourism state in America.

“I always look at things upside down,” McGaughey said. “What did I do as a competitive guy? I made a T-shirt.”

When the governor of Idaho saw it, he declared that McGaughey had single-handedly turned the image of Idaho tourism around 180 degrees.

McGaughey pulled out one of the T-shirts to show his Huron audience, pointing out that he had simply had the image of the state of Idaho imprinted upside down.

Upside down, Idaho looks like Florida.

When he consults with organizations, he encourages them to work hard to be important.

“If you truly want your children to be special and to be unique, teach them to be important,” he said.

As he worked with the chamber and development corporation earlier in the day, he learned they are working with a new culture coming into Huron, and are trying to resell the community so there is more pride and buy-in.

“How many here have heard of kids wanting to leave Huron as soon as they can?” he asked the audience.

Hands went up.

But McGaughey said that refrain is heard across the country, in cities large and small.

“Every kid everywhere says it,” he said. “Don’t put yourself down for it.”

Even young people who live across the street from Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., complain that “there’s nothing to do here.”

But he said it’s all about living some place as opposed to belonging some place.

“People that belong here never want to leave,” he said. “It’s magnificent to belong.”

Businesses face roadblocks when employees want to know “what’s in it for me” instead of “what’s in it for us,” when they follow the belief that “if it feels good, do it,” and when they wonder “what’s the least I can do.”

Successful communities, businesses and churches are that way because people ask “what’s the most we can do?” McGaughey said.

“We have to remind everybody, everybody on our team, are we doing the most we can do,” he said.

For the complete article see the 03-23-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 03-23-2013 paper.

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