I’ve been thinking a lot about trolls the last three weeks. And I don’t mean those cute, fuzzy trolls that sing and dance in the movies. I’m talking about the online, anonymous individuals that post intentionally inflammatory, rude, or upsetting statements to elicit strong emotional responses in people or to steer the conversation off-topic.
Unfortunately, we saw a tremendous amount of trolling to push a specific agenda during the 2021 City of Fort Collins elections. As a self-described policy wonk and civic nerd, I’m disappointed to see my fellow citizens adopt this tactic to vilify hard-working, thoughtful business people and your Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce. It was heart-breaking to watch faceless trolls attack individuals that were willing to share their name and their perspective—especially if it didn’t align with the troll’s self-described view of the issue. As well, the trolls weren’t afraid to create myths and untruths—especially about the Chamber.
In case you were following some of those concerning threads on social media, I want to set the record straight on a couple of items. Your Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce is a champion for business. Our mission is to proactively empower business people to build a community where business can thrive and citizens are proud to live. We do that by serving as an influential business leader which ensures an economically vibrant and livable region.
We represent and serve as an advocate for 1,063 businesses in the Fort Collins Area. Those business employ 388,264 full time employees and represent a dynamic cross section of our community. Many of our largest community employers are members of the Chamber, but more than 75% of our membership are employers with 25 or fewer employees. We have a rigorous process for evaluating local issues and candidates with more than 50 business community members participating in policy creation. And once we take a position on an issue, we aren’t afraid to share our perspective and to advocate for that business viewpoint.
We played a central role in helping business and the community navigate the pandemic-related economic downturn while advocating for actions that allowed us to Keep NoCo Open. And we are proud to stand up and remind policy makers that business creates community.
Thank you to the many business people, members or not, that tried to share their perspective on issues during this election season. While the trolls were trying to bully and promote falsehoods, you stood tall and were transparent with your perspective. The Chamber stands beside you and will continue to work to create a business climate that encourages existing business to grow and prosper.