Greg Bassett: Greater Salisbury Committee raising its profile

Stephen Covey, in his legendary business book “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People,” preaches the importance of a mission statement. Every business, Covey long maintained, as well as every business executive and every human being striving for success, needs to determine its purpose and formulate that into a mission statement.

Inside the Greater Salisbury Committee’s primary meeting room, the Salisbury leadership group has its mission statement written across a main wall.

“GSC: Helps identify community problems, works to find broad and sound solutions; assists in resolving the problems.”

And how would a group of 112 business leaders ever achieve such a thing?

“We seek to cooperate with and assist government authorities and private organizations to accomplish these ends.”

Founded in 1967, when Salisbury and Wicomico County were at a crossroads (economically, manufacturing and agriculture were diminishing; population, not land acreage, was the new determiner of power in state government), GSC was an immediately noble effort by the community’s most significant leaders to ensure healthy stewardship through a time of change.

There would be, of course, more times of change to come, and the so-called “100,000-foot view” adopted by the GSC would always be a way to ensure progress and thoughtful action.

GSC and its membership have long been at the forefront of helping push the community and its leaders to create ideas and initiatives that have kept this area moving forward. GSC was the major local player in the creation of Wor-Wic Community College, the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore, Salisbury Wicomico Economic Development office, and in helping to get the (now being updated) Riverwalk park built.

In creating the Delmarva Water Transport Committee, it helped to galvanize efforts to keep the port of Salisbury, the state’s second largest port, viable. In short, GSC puts its best foot forward whenever a community need or challenge arises.

Like any entity that’s been in business for 49 years, it has had its share of successes and disappointments. Still, it has remained a collection of smart and committed people who were at the ready, who cared deeply about keeping and making Salisbury and Wicomico County great.

People sometimes refer to GSC as the “House of Lords,” and will tell you that it has lost some of its influence aura to the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce, the “House of Commons.” The Chamber has gained ground in recent years in its sphere of influence; the energy that comes from the Chamber membership and which is exhibited through the Chamber wide-ranging programs has been a catalyst to Salisbury’s resurgence.

That same resurgence has been led by political leaders who seem to want to hear more voices, who know the value of (distinguished) citizen input and recognize that they need access to the business community to carry out their own ideals.

GSC seems to recognize that now is the time to re-immerse itself in community issues and raise its profile. These days, few battles are won behind the scenes. An ever-skeptical public demands that all business be conducted in a spotlight. Public consensus can only be achieved when the public has been duly informed. In my line of work, it’s something I think about all the time.

Along those lines, Mike Dunn was recently named the group’s President and CEO. Dunn’s community ties are deeply forged; he is a former City Council President and his creation of the July Fourth Red, White & Boom event might be the single greatest social feel-good victory in a decade. The GSC Chairman is Mat Tilghman, a longtime successful Salisbury businessman whose relatives can be considered one of Salisbury’s founding families.

In those two leaders alone, GSC has men who have ideas about the city’s future while also fully grasping its storied past. The group’s other leaders are a Who’s Who of the business community, which is typical of GSC, but the collective would have to be viewed as having an aggressive mindset when it comes to shaping the community’s future.

With eager leaders in place, all of them following a tried-and-true mission statement, Salisbury’s House of Lords stands ready to both help and be heard. That can only be a good thing.


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