A Message from Our President & CEO, Rodney Fong

To the San Francisco Business Community,

A little part of me cried on March 15th when we closed the offices of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. I went home, thinking about our impacted member businesses and your employees. I thought about all the hands I shook every day for the past 365 days as the CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, and how much I enjoyed every single handshake and human interaction.

It was the right step for the Mayor and Governor to call for Shelter In Place and for us to close our offices to work remotely, as Chamber staff continue to do. Together we need to flatten this curve.

As this first week’s sheltering in place has passed, I think about how life and the economy will change for San Franciscans. And what opportunities lie ahead for us all, especially here in our City.

My last in-person interview was on CNBC, when a reporter asked, “How can technology help us move forward during this time?” It was a great question, and I don’t believe we know all the answers to it yet.

How will our highly successful San Francisco Chamber of Commerce networking events change? What do our events in the future look like?

Way back in 2019 we were all competing for time and money. Now in 2020, we have to consider the expanded competition from the digital and audio space. More and more people realize the potential of virtual conferencing or live webinars. In the future, our events will need to stand above every other in-person event happening in the City and every online event happening in the world. Content, whether in person or on screen, must be enriching, genuine and provocative.

I deeply believe that humans are social animals, and after this crisis is over, our instinct to connect will override residual fears. We will be more selective, move with intent, explore through an even more thorough series of filters.

However our national economy changes, I know we have all become aware of the need of trusted, competent government. We need systems we can rely on for adequate health care services, public safety, housing, transportation, and environmental quality.

Our Public Policy team has been working diligently this past week with our 1,500 member businesses, advocating for economic resiliency and recovery programs in City Hall and Sacramento.

San Francisco, as always, will seize the opportunity to lead and inspire the rest of the world. The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce’s 170th Anniversary has been unlike any other: this year will see a recession, an unprecedented national election, and a pandemic. Our Chamber will continue with thoughtful leadership and innovation. We will champion a local economy that supports everybody in our community.

In the coming weeks, friends and family may find themselves in dire straits. Let’s continue to be there for one another. Let’s continue to support our small businesses that are struggling through this time.

What exactly will our new economy, City, and Chamber of Commerce look like? I ask you to join me in exploring what’s next. Send me your thoughts and stories, or any links, articles, and podcasts you think I should check out to rfong@sfchamber.com. Together, let’s rebuild a better San Francisco!

Rodney Fong
President and CEO
San Francisco Chamber of Commerce