By PHYLLIS HUNT
In today’s world, thanks to relentless media coverage and the pressure to perform at the top – we see the general public viewing business more and more as “the enemy”. Profit today seems to be a dirty word and support for business growth in a community is sometimes viewed as “corporate welfare”.
The business of commerce is simply this: “meeting the needs and wants of other people”. If we do that successfully, our businesses grow and prosper, benefiting the risk-taker (the business owner), the employees and the community. Business is not a dirty word! Our economic fortune directly improves the quality of life of our citizens. Without successful businesses and healthy commerce – there is no quality of life. Employees that are educated and have good paying jobs are able to take care of themselves, support their families and make their communities a better place by giving back.
Ever thought of the term “giving back”? It implies that you are giving something that was given to you in the first place, i.e., returning a favor. Philanthropy is just that – giving back from the resources generated through the business of commerce. And it benefits everyone. From churches to soup kitchens, women’s crisis centers to senior citizens centers – the funds come to take care of those less fortunate from the business community – from taxes paid by businesses and employees and further, by their donations of time and money to these important causes.
A strong economic base is good for both businesses and consumers. Without a strong tax base – communities find it difficult to provide the amenities that their citizens want and expect. Today, more and more, the quality of life offered by a community is at the top of the list when it comes to where a business with higher paying jobs chooses to locate. Businesses are looking both for a community with an available, trainable workforce and a location that can attract a future workforce. Culture, parks, amenities – these are things that the “creative class” is looking for in a place that they are willing to put down roots and grow their companies and raise their families.
Today, economic development is changing rapidly. Businesses are looking at shorter and shorter time frames in which to make a decision. Where relocations used to take months, decisions are now being made in weeks. Regions, not communities, are becoming the geographic unit that matter. Early site searches are all happening on the Internet. And the scope of economic development has broadened – including infrastructure, workforce, education and training capabilities and the business climate and cost of doing business in a community.
Why should you care? Because keeping our current businesses here and attracting new ones depends on it. A healthy tax base supports the kind of community we all want to live in. The world we live in is changing rapidly and to keep in the game, we must change with it. If you want parks, green space, clean water, unique shops and great entertainment options – you are in the business of economic development. If you want to support your church, your local women’s shelter or another cause – you are in the business of economic development. If you want a better paying job for yourself or your family members – you are in the business of economic development. It’s not about us versus them, or parks versus projects – it’s about a better quality of life for everyone. And that’s something we can all agree on!
PHYLLIS HUNT is the San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce president. Follow her blog postings in the BIZSTREAMZ section under BLOGS.