Economic Growth in the Eye of the Storm
By Ann Kammerer / 04.26.21 / 3 min read
Chris Buck reflects on challenges and the promise of new days ahead.
Things change. And in a recent economy beset by the unknown and unexpected of COVID-19, that can be a good thing.
Chris Buck, Senior Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer at Martin Commercial Properties, understands how change can whip up whirlwinds of uncertainty. But those whirlwinds, he said, can empower leaders and their teams to clear away damaged practices, and reconstruct time-tested approaches to doing business.
“One of the things that will and has always helped Michigan is building on the work that’s already been done,” said Buck. “It’s the philosophy of taking something that you’re already good at and doubling down on it, industries like insurance, automotive, agriculture and tourism for example. Our challenge is not to lose momentum. And that can be hard, particularly with all the uncertainties of how our lives will evolve as we move through this pandemic. ”
Buck came on board with Martin’s leadership team in February 2020. About 12 years earlier, he had moved to Greater Lansing with his corporate job with Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Used to larger metropolitan areas, he felt a bit out of his element, but grew to love being part of a tightly-knit community that consistently worked together to make Greater Lansing a special place. Because of that experience, Buck decided to start a small business advocacy and consulting firm, and later served as the Economic Development Director for Meridian Township.
Perpetually inspired by the cooperative culture he saw amongst the public and private sectors, Buck opted to re-enter the business sphere by joining Martin. But about a month into his new post, COVID-19 hit with a vengeance, prompting the Governor to issue Michigan’s initial “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order. Businesses and organizations were instructed to temporarily suspend in-person, non-essential services and operations to help stop the spread of the virus. It was a moment that called for community members to rise up, unite, and meet an unprecedented challenge.
Martin professionals shared concerns with the larger community about the effect of the pandemic on personal and economic health. Rather than coming to a complete stand-still, the Martin group stepped up to help their clients stay on track, find spaces, remain active, and arrive at solutions that met their needs all from the safety of their homes.
Buck noticed an equal and similar dynamic among business and civic leaders in the communities served by Martin. He said it’s a resilience he’s seen across Michigan, one born from always getting up even when knocked down by seemingly indomitable forces.
“When I first moved to Michigan from out west, the state was in the depth of a recession,” Buck said. “Everyone was beat up, tired and dusty. Vibrancy was in an abyss. But there are amazing people here who collaborate and share ideas for economic development and strengthen our core. That gets communities up and rising again. We’re on that course now, which provides hope that we’ll come out of the pandemic stronger.”
Now that his feet are firmly planted at Martin, Buck looks forward to engaging in more community advocacy, including his weekly business podcast that focuses on economic development. While leading during the time of COVID-19 presents unusual challenges, he knows the perseverance and cumulative knowledge of the Martin team will help stabilize any turmoil in commercial properties for the benefit of the greater good.
“My advice for anyone is to take deep breaths and be patient,” Buck said. “Michigan is a lot more resilient than people think. By working together and keeping an eye out for each other, we’ll get through this.” ■
If you would like to speak with Chris directly about services and initiatives through Martin Commercial Properties, contact him via phone or email.
If you’d like to hear insights from community and business leaders on Michigan’s vibrancy and economic stability, check out Chris’ weekly podcast “Michigan Reimagined” on most podcast platforms and at http://bit.ly/MIreimagined