The new year means changes for an organization that represents hundreds of Austin-area businesses.
And while the leadership might be changing, the mission is not.
According to Sandy Forstner.”They’re invested here, they work here and as they grow here, everybody benefits,”.
It’s an organization that touches every aspect of life in the Austin area, and it’s about to get a new leader.
After 18 years, Forstner retires Friday as executive director of the Austin-area Chamber of Commerce.
“We have 400 members,” he said, “and collectively, they employ over 10,000 people. That’s why it’s so important that businesses have a voice.”
“The Austin Chamber of Commerce is really businesses coming together to strengthen the business community, which improves the whole economy,” said Elaine Hansen, incoming chamber director.
Hansen is a former director of the Mower County Red Cross.
“I worked for a chamber for a couple of years in Illinois before we moved to Austin,” she said, “and my first year in town, I worked for the Chamber here.”
A number of years ago, the Chamber adopted the slogan “We’re Better Together,” which fits Hansen’s ideas.
“We may be competitive in terms of our business products, but there’s still advantages to working together,” she said. “I’m looking to bring people together for the advancement of all. The role of the Chamber is really to be a conduit, to bring people together, to connect them in the local business community as well as to give them a bigger voice.
“We work for the Chamber,” Forstner said, “but the Chamber is the membership.”
Hansen calls the Chamber “forward moving,” saying, “I’m excited to continue to make Austin an even better place to live and do business.”