By Jimmy Randolph, SAGA CEO
One of the primary objectives of the Chamber’s Leadership Sanford program is to educate current and future business leaders about how local government works, and to encourage business leaders to become more involved in the process of local government. These efforts have been rewarded in recent years, as Sanford and Lee County have gained a strong and well-deserved reputation for their business-friendly climate. This current reality should not be taken for granted, however. If the business community expects local government to be responsive to the needs of businesses, small business owners and large employers alike must be willing to commit the time and effort to effectively communicate those needs and help make them a reality.
Communicating with elected leaders is important, and one of the Chamber’s strong suits, but direct participation in government by Chamber members can have an even greater impact. One obvious path to local government participation is to pursue an elected leadership position, but that can be incredibly time consuming and expensive beyond the reach of the average small business owner.
A much more common and accessible route to public service is via citizen advisory boards, one of the several boards and commissions which are an integral part of effective local government. Citizen advisory boards, whether created by state statute or formed at the local level, support better governance and benefit elected leaders by providing direct input from a range of stakeholders, particularly when considering complex issues where community consensus is required.
While these roles may not be as widely publicized or sound quite as glamorous as elected positions, local government boards and commissions offer citizens a direct and meaningful role in their own governance, without some of the more onerous demands and stresses of mounting a successful election campaign. During the Chamber’s Public Policy Luncheon on April 4th, Lee County Commissioner Bill Carver announced that Lee County is now accepting applications from qualified candidates to fill vacancies on Lee County’s boards and commissions for the upcoming 2022-2023 fiscal year. Commissioner Carver expressed the importance of broad and diverse representation on each board and encouraged all Chamber members to consider applying to serve. Likewise, the City of Sanford is open to applications between now and June for its boards and commissions as well.
For Chamber members with a desire to positively impact the local business climate, there are pending openings on the Transportation Advisory Board, the Lee County Planning Board and the Sanford Area Growth Alliance Board. While other local government boards and commissions may not appear as relevant to business concerns, all boards and commissions are important and would benefit from a business perspective. For folks with a passion for education and literacy, CCCC and the Lee County Library both have openings for qualified candidates on their Board of Trustees; for the athlete, wellness guru or outdoor enthusiast, the Parks and Recreation Commission has an opening; the Lee County Agriculture Advisory Board and Environmental Affairs Board also have openings, just to name a few.
Detailed information about upcoming vacancies and the application process for Lee County, as well as fillable online applications may be obtained at www.leecountync.gov, or by contacting the Clerk to the Board at 919-718-4605, ext. 5507 or email@example.com. Likewise, details of vacancies and the application process at the City of Sanford can be found at www.sanfordnc.net, or by contacting the City Clerk’s office at 919-777-1112.
If you are a Chamber member, regardless of the size of your business or your role in the organization, regardless of whether you’re a lifelong resident or new to the community, please take the time to review the board vacancies and seriously consider volunteering to serve. Your service will help ensure that the voice of business continues to be heard in the halls of local government, and that Sanford, Broadway and Lee County will continue to fulfill their reputation as an optimal location for businesses to grow and thrive.