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Krawczak: There’s a lesson in everything

July 2, 2012
Jackie Krawczak , The Alpena News

SkyWest. BIG sigh of relief! Of course it's a relief to know the hard work by everyone involved paid off and that Alpena will maintain reliable air service. But that doesn't mean the region can lose interest in the topic of air service. Instead, we, as a community, should all reflect and learn from this experience.

This project is a great example of people from very different starting points and perspectives putting those differences aside and working together effectively to achieve something for the greater good. Sure there are other examples of this, but I wonder why we don't do this more often. If, at every meeting we attend or event we participate in, we all left those differences at the door and worked more cohesively in a similar direction, wouldn't we achieve a whole lot more? I like to think I don't let those things get in the way of my effectiveness especially when it comes to doing what's right for Alpena - but this experience is going to make me take a much closer look at my own actions. We could probably all use a little reflection in that area.

In thinking back over the last several years, I cannot think of a better example to demonstrate to us how easy it can be to lose assets that are so important to the survival of our community. It is easy to take things for granted and not appreciate what we have. It is easy to get into a groove and no longer continue to move forward. That doesn't just apply to our air service. This experience should be a reminder to us. We need to work hard to maintain and build on what we already have. We have to work hard as a community to support the things we need to survive and grow.

Now that we have secured SkyWest for a period of time, we have to work hard at creating a relationship with them that will work to everyone's benefit. We need to make a commitment to our local air service. Certainly there are other factors involved in our decisions but SkyWest is a reputable company and is aware of this region's needs. We need to demonstrate that we want them here that we can be flexible and accommodating and that we appreciate their willingness to be as well. We have to appreciate and support the things in this community that are important to the health of the community. Is there a local business you'd miss if it were gone? Would you miss air service if we didn't have it? What about the great natural resources in the region? Whatever it is, use it, appreciate it and support it. Or lose it.

A final lesson learned from this is that someone else's final answer doesn't always have to be your final solution. Your first attempt isn't necessarily the only option. Giving up isn't an option when it is something so important. When we first started this process, we heard a lot of different answers to our questions. What if the air service committee had listened when someone suggested going with the first airline that had bid? What if the committee had listened when we were told this was Delta's plan to receive a higher subsidy? Where would we be today if we had not pushed, and instead sat down defeated? Action may not be easy but if it is important then the difficult journey is worth it. If you recall my "No More Excuses" column a few weeks ago, you will recognize what I say next. I no longer want to hear, "We/I tried that once but it didn't work." That's defeat. What a great reminder this experience is to push through and get to where you want to go.

This airlines experience certainly has given us another opportunity to sharpen our skills. Everything in life allows us an opportunity to reflect, improve where we can and make adjustments for the next round. It is up to each of us to take those lessons in and apply them to our own lives so we can help ourselves and our communities grow. You probably have heard all of this before but we have a great and real example staring us in the face let's embrace the learning opportunity in it and come out even better than just having secured a great replacement air service.

Jackie Krawczak is the executive director of the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce. Her column appears bi-weekly on Tuesday.



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