September 6, 2014
Hunterdon Fest
Noon - 7:00 PM
Liberty Village
Flemington

President`s Message

July 2014

Leadership the Challenge...

This excerpt is taken from the Harvard Busies Review…

“An inspiring historical story is once again making the rounds at least partially because of its inclusion in Malcolm Gladwell’s new book, David and Goliath. In it, Gladwell tells the story of the French town of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, which became a safe haven for Jews in Nazi-occupied France during World War II. Led by minister André Trocmé, the residents of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon saved between 3,000 and 3,500 Jews (in addition to others seeking refuge) from 1940 until the end of the war, bringing them into the community and hiding them from French and Nazi officials. By any measure, their actions were courageous and inspiring. They were also an example of the power of community in leadership.

We often think of leadership as a solitary task. Buying into Thomas Carlyle’s “great man” theory of history, we speak of leadership in solitary and personal terms. And certainly, history is filled with examples of men and women like Trocmé, Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, and Mother Theresa who took bold individual action. But most real change — even the change driven by those aforementioned leaders — is community-driven and community-focused. Some of the greatest accomplishments in business, politics, and culture have come not from individual initiative alone but from those working in, with, and for community”

This thought analysis that leadership has come from not just individual but working together as a community has been one of the explorations for the past three years of our Leadership Hunterdon Program. Through the collective experiences of know 30 alumni we have begun to see the real impact that the experience has had both individually and collectively for our County. Leadership Hunterdon takes our participants each month and allows them to meet and interact with the key leadership from so many institutions here in the County.

The challenges that we face as a County and especially as a business community are great. This year’s class shares many examples in their White Paper which I urge you to read. Over the course of the last decade we have seen major employers in our community leave. The staggering vacancy rate of commercial properties in our County the impact to residential taxes is impacted greatly. The challenge of looking at re-purposing former uses of commercial properties into new and mixed use create an opportunity to look towards a brighter future.

Most importantly the ability to retain and grow our existing business is the most critical task at hand. Hunterdon County collectively as a community and as a business community cannot afford to lose anymore business to other parts of New Jersey, PA or beyond. I think if one major opportunity I see is that we a Community can address these challenges, that we can collectively take some bold action.

The best examples of Leadership are when individuals come together and when we as a Community stand together and face the opportunities that lie ahead….

With best regards,

Christopher J. Phelan

President & CEO