I have the honor of leading a fourth-generation business. Speed Exterminating was started by my great grandfather, John W. Speed, back in 1908. So, I’ve been in and around our small business all of my life. In fact, it’s the only full-time job I have ever had.
I’ve also been around COSE for a long time. The first COSE Annual Meeting I attended was in 1985 when I was 18 years old. This was not because I was an active COSE member, but my dad sure was. He was Chairman of COSE’s board of directors in 1984-85. It was an important part of our business then and it is even more important now.
As I started the year and began to prepare for my first Board meeting at the end of this week, I met with our Board members in groups to talk about their COSE experience, their passion for the organization and the work we need to do ahead. And I confirmed something that I already knew: The members of the COSE board are dedicated and passionate about the organization and the small business community.
While we know COSE is a critical resource to a lot of our members to access savings on their health benefits, workers’ compensation or energy costs, there is much more to COSE.
Don’t get me wrong—generating membership interest and dues is critical to the support of the economic development and advocacy work we do with the Greater Cleveland Partnership.
But, more broadly, COSE is a community for small business owners. A place they can connect with like-minded small business people to share ideas and help each other.
It’s also a platform to ensure our voice is heard. Individually, we are just one voice. But together, we are far larger than any other employer in the region and an economic impact that is also more significant.
I think that the work we have done over the last couple of years to get more connected to the GCP and its broader work in the region has been really important. I’ve learned a lot and I think there is a lot of value there. At the same time, our specific role is to ensure we are out there in front for the small business community.
2018-2019 priorities set
So, my goals as chairman are pretty simple.
I want to make sure more of you are getting involved with and are connected to our work. You are going to see more opportunities to connect with each other and I’m going to push you to take the time to get involved. Not for us, but for you. I know from experience the more you get involved, the more you get out of COSE.
I also want to make sure that the GCP’s work is felt by and connected to small businesses. We need to ensure we take business investment and support down to the region’s smallest businesses in our city neighborhoods and our suburbs. I want to make sure that the voice of small businesses is actively connected to all of the work of GCP.
I want to continue to ensure that we increase the awareness of business owners about all that COSE can do for them beyond the one thing they may have joined the organization for. I want there to be more things for you to get benefit from and want to make sure you access more than just one.
There are a lot of opportunities for all of you to get involved. Just come out to an event we are doing. Or, if you want to get more active in the organization, call me or Steve and we’ll talk about what we can get you involved with.
This is your organization. My job is to help translate what you need to COSE staff and to the GCP. Help me help you get the most out of COSE for yourself and for your business.
I look forward to talking with many of you during tonight’s networking reception. And I appreciate the trust of my fellow board members and the opportunity to work on your behalf.