Sometimes we think of chambers of commerce as cheerleaders for business and industry with narrowly focused interests that aim to expand the profits and economic vitality of companies they represent.
If that is true for some chambers, it’s certainly not the sum and total of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce. Like many other chambers, it does promote and lobby for policies and practices aimed at helping businesses in Austin and the region flourish, be that publicly financed incentives or regulatory reform. But the Austin chamber’s reach is broader, touching on such things as reducing Austin’s poverty rate, increasing the number of students going to college and addressing the city’s mobility challenges.
It’s an approach that recognizes the connection between education, jobs and poverty.
One can argue about whether that focus is driven by a social or economic agenda. Either way, the chamber’s initiative, called Opportunity Austin, is doing positive things that benefit businesses as well as families. And while it’s been around for about 12 years, Opportunity Austin is not widely known outside of elite corporate and educational circles.