A few months ago I applied for the ChamberLINKS program. I saw it as an amazing opportunity for my personal and professional development, but also for the development of Serbian Association of Managers, where I work as a Coordinator of Young Business Leaders Section.
When I was accepted to the program I received an email saying that I would spend 5 weeks in Ponca City, Oklahoma. I had heard of every state in the United States before receiving that email, and knew where most of the states were. However I had never heard of Ponca City. I googled it and saw it was a city of 25,000 people, which is a small number compared to Belgrade, the capital city of Serbia, which has a population of 2 million people.
But numbers often don’t say anything. And one week into the program that proved to be true and I’m just so happy to be here.
For five weeks, I will shadow Rich Cantillon, the CEO of Ponca City Chamber of Commerce. I will observe and take part in the daily operations of the Chamber, follow the work of different boards and committees, attend events and conferences, and get to experience American way of life and doing business.
This past week was amazing. Ponca City is just an incredible place to be and live. With a very rich history, it is a vibrant, passionate and engaged community, and they are setting the example of how a city should function. The city focuses on the people—that’s what matters here the most. It’s a small city in size but people make it remarkable, and it just feels like home, no matter where you are from.
Ponca City today is a progressive town with the community dedicated to furthering its development. Business owners and companies in this town have positive attitudes, and they cooperate together with the Ponca City Chamber and local government to stay competitive with clear goals in mind. It’s evident that everyone here is focused and works hard.
The city also has great community leaders (which I see as Primi inter pares, or “first ones among equals”), who are smart people carefully managing the development of the city. City leaders closely engage and communicate with constituents, and they value transparency. This has been an eye-opening experience. I participated in a town hall meeting and observed how city officials have open discussions with citizens to brainstorm for new city project ideas. Cooperation between representatives of Ponca City, the business community, and the people is incredible, and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to witness all this in action.
In the coming weeks, as I learn more about how Ponca City Chamber works, I will write more about the community and economic development of this city.
CIPE’s ChamberLINKS Program matches rising young stars from chambers of commerce and business associations around the world with similar organizations in the U.S. Milos Djuricanin is a part of the program, placed at the Ponca City Chamber of Commerce in Oklahoma.