Inside the Chamber column: Be thankful for business this holiday season
Inside the Chamber
If you know me at all, you know I am the daughter of a union leader from Cleveland. I grew up hearing my grandfather talk about the Great Depression, sweat shops and the oppressed working men, women and children before laborers showed solidarity by forming unions.
My father’s career began when he was the first Local 404 Cement Mason’s Union apprentice in the 1940s — he had just gotten out of the service after World War II and was only 18 years old. At the dinner table he would quiz us about the most famous union leaders of all time, which is why I can answer trivia questions about George Meany, Samuel Gompers and John L. Lewis. Dad didn’t care much for Jimmy Hoffa, but thanks to Cesar Chavez, we went without eating grapes for several years.
The union helped my dad provide for his family for 54 years. I remember my him being elected business agent for his local when I was in high school. After I graduated from college he advanced to being named an International vice president for Plasterers & Cement Masons.
My dad was a great negotiator and people on both sides of the labor/management aisle respected him because he respected them. He recognized contractors and businesses as being the wheels that turned to create jobs for his members. He believed in personal responsibility and started reforms like the first health and welfare program where his union workers voted to put in a portion of their own paychecks into a fund that provided for health insurance and a pension.
Late in his life my dad started to question the power of unions and felt their leaders were becoming greedy. It was a different world than when he had started more than 50 years prior. He and I had talks about the emerging entrepreneurial business community and how through chambers of commerce business people were banding together for the common good just like union laborers had done in my grandfather’s day. We talked about our members and how we honored them. We talked about business people collecting and paying taxes and taking risks that provided jobs for families and infrastructure for communities.
Recent events have made me think about my father and his recognition of what the independent businessman provides. That’s why I am extremely proud of the Glenwood Springs business community, which came to the table to work on the recent passage of the A&I tax. Business people are the ones who collect this sales tax, and they enthusiastically backed it because they know what is good for Glenwood Springs is good for business.
The Glenwood Hot Springs’ decision to purchase the Hotel Colorado and Steve and April Carver’s purchase of the Redstone Castle are also extraordinary events that brought home the importance of the local business person and his or her community investment.
It is historic that the Hotel Colorado will go back to being part of the Hot Springs complex just as it was in the days of Walter Devereux. The hotel will be owned by people of our local business community and not by outside interests — which is just the sentiment the Hot Springs investors had in 1956 when they scraped together the down payment to purchase the Glenwood Hot Springs. We are very fortunate the Hot Springs board members continues to see themselves as stewards of these iconic properties.
Likewise, the Carvers’ investment in a regional treasure is something to celebrate because once again local property owners will lovingly restore and care for this property.
This Thanksgiving season I am thankful for the local business community and all who support them. I hope you are, too. To show your appreciation, give your local shopkeeper or business associate a hug — or better yet, shop local this holiday season.
If it’s good for Glenwood, it’s good for business. And if it’s good for business, then it’s good for Glenwood Springs.
Marianne Virgili is President & CEO of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.
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