By Deb Beddoe Chairman of the Board Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce
The theme for the annual installation and awards gala was Through The Looking Glass. As we celebrated the businesses that have been a part of Carlsbad history for the last 95 years, we must also reflect that the world will be a vastly different place 95, 25, or even a mere 5 years from now. The future is now and how we choose to address that as a Chamber is important today.
As we honor our members in the medical industry for their past achievements, we can’t ignore that current advances in medicine already have the ability for our wearable devices to communicate directly with our doctors; our organs that need to be replaced can be printed with 3D printers; and Watson the IBM computer has the ability to diagnose our ailments. With all of these advancements intended to lengthen the quality and quantity of our lives, is 65 still going to be a realistic retirement age for the average worker?
We also honor our members in the business services industries. These service businesses rely on support staff to fulfill the needs of their clients. With the use of smart phones, tablet devices, social media connections, and virtual offices, there is little control that employers have over when and where their employees are working. Are the overtime laws and exempt vs. non-exempt distinctions even relevant in this era?
The hospitality industry also received their share of honors at the gala. This industry relies on large number of workers, many of whom are able to enter the industry without any advanced education requirements. As increases in minimum wage threaten to outpace the rates that patrons are willing to pay for food and rooms, many companies are looking to replace the workers with automation. McDonald’s is testing machines to replace cashiers; a hotel in Japan has a human looking robot checking people into their rooms; and, at our own Barrel Republic in Carlsbad, you serve your own beer and a wearable device tracks your consumption for billing purposes. When minimum wage jobs are difficult to come by, will we be forced into an economy that supports a Universal Basic Income?
These are just some of the important business questions facing our future. We all love the Chamber because of the relationships and community we benefit from, but we also need the Chamber because of the advocacy in speaking for business regulations that will be shaping our future.
As we take a peek Through The Looking Glass at our future we have a chance now to make a difference. If you want to be a part of that voice, my recommendation would be to join a Chamber committee and let your voice be heard.