The Norman Transcript

April 18, 2014

During annual banquet, Chamber of Commerce promotes moving Norman forward

By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Amidst the backdrop of music, dancing, dinner and fellowship, business leader Mike Fowler announced that the time for a quality-of-life initiative in Norman has come.

As incoming Norman Chamber of Commerce board chairman, Fowler and others have been speaking behind the scenes with stakeholders and city leaders about a vision for Norman that could include an aquatic center and a new public library.

On Thursday night, that vision was floated into the public arena when Fowler accepted the gavel of leadership from Andy Sherrer during the Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet.

“I am humbled to stand here this evening,” Fowler said, acknowledging those who have come before him. “I recall the efforts a few short years ago to rebuild and refocus the Chamber — when business leaders decided that we would not be timid, that our Chamber would aggressively pursue pro-business policies for our city and our state.”

That change in focus marked a more aggressive Chamber and a move by local business leaders to be more engaged in the community.

Sherrer outlined that progress in his recap of a successful year that grew Chamber memberships by 100. One year ago, Sherrer said, “We’re Norman, we’re open for business.” On Thursday night, he said we are still open.

The Chamber has pursued a legislative agenda, hosted candidate forums and encouraged the next generation of leaders through its Norman NEXT program. Combined with networking, business development and other programs, it’s been a fruitful year for the Chamber, Sherrer said.

Fowler’s motto this year will be “Move Norman Forward.”

“Now is the time to pursue a bigger vision,” Fowler said. “Over the next 12 months, we will build the case that a comprehensive quality-of-life package needs to become a reality for our community.”

In 1973, Fowler’s father brought his family to Norman and established a business.

“We sold 250 units our first year,” Fowler said. “This year, the Fowler organization sill sells over 16,000 vehicle in seven locations and four cities, but Norman is home.”

Like Norman, the Fowler family has grown to include a fourth generation. Jonathan and Natalie Fowler welcomed baby Winnie recently, and that is the driving force for the Fowler family’s support of improving Norman’s quality of life, Mike Fowler said.

Mike Fowler did not talk about libraries, aquatic centers or any other pieces of the initiative he announced, but it is likely the Norman community will hear more soon.

“As we ‘Move Norman Forward,’ we need to recognize that city issues will always exist, disagreements will always occur,” Mike Fowler said. “The path forward will come with pitfalls and problems. We will continue to address those and to engage in dialogue.”

Joy Hampton




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