Last week I traveled back to Washington, D.C. with our partners at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce for their 15th annual #SDinDC trip. The delegation brought more than 160 San Diego political, business, education, and community representatives together in Washington to advance local agendas with our federal leaders and partners.
While there, I had the opportunity to sit down with senior leadership at the Pentagon and Washington Navy Yard, meet with members of our congressional delegation, and host a meeting for local San Diego leaders with our partners at the Brookings Institution. Purposeful and beneficial meetings, all. But it was a short walk that I took from my hotel to the Washington Monument that likely had the greatest impact on me.
About a block from our hotel was the U.S. Department of Commerce. As I walked around the building, I took note of the quotes etched in stone above all of the entrances. They are attributed to Lincoln, Washington, and numerous other American leaders who have all famously shared their thoughts on trade, innovation, and the pillars of a free economy. Yet it was a quote from a more obscure statesman from the mid-1800s that still has me thinking.
One-time diplomat (and Secretary of the Navy) from Massachusetts John Bancroft said: “Commerce Defies Every Wind, Outrides Every Tempest, And Invades Every Zone.” He shared these words almost 175 years ago.
While I know that this quote hasn’t proven true for many individuals and populations in our country throughout its existence, it is an important reminder of the intentions and promises of our systems, and clear proof of just how far and wide commerce is supposed to reach—to every zone, and every person, in every corner of our communities.
The words etched above the doors of the U.S. Department of Commerce are meant to stand the test of time and remind us of who we must continuously strive to be as an economic development community—defying every wind and riding out every storm are only important in that their benefits can truly invade every zone. Until then, our work will never be complete.
Inspired and energized by the past, present, and future of our work,