Don Rogers: We can do more for chambers of commerce
Vail, CO, Colorado
Today’s mantra is “buy local” and for good reason.
Buying local helps our neighbors, helps our governments and helps our souls. It also makes our communities a little better, too. Given all that, there’s no reason NOT to shop at home.
So why are so many people streaming to the big-box discounters, and out-of-town ones at that?
We know what’s good for us, and we still can’t help ourselves. We eat too much junk food, drive too far and reach for cheap, mistaking that for value.
Cheap with little return is still too expensive, if you think about it. Shopping at home delivers value to us well beyond the service or product we purchased.
Our society is capitalistic, sure, but there is enormous communal benefit depending on where we buy. Those shoes or furnishings bought in Denver instead of Vail, Edwards or Eagle have consequences for all of us.
There’s also the question of what “buying local” means. City Market and Safeway, for instance, are corporate. But they deliver a lot of local revenue for government and jobs for residents. Gallegos is local for us and out of town for many of its clients.
The local papers are privately owned with sister papers in other cities. Both have deep local roots.
My paper gives back more than $1.5 million annually in cash and space to help fulfill its mission to bring communities together. I’m proud of that action as a local business that takes this responsibility seriously.
Quibble over the wording of headlines if you must, but this organization’s heart is in the right place. I wouldn’t work for it otherwise, being one of those loons who works for the greater cause rather than the paycheck.
If I’m not doing good, the job’s not worth it. In this case, it’s providing the most balanced, relevant, accurate information in perspective that we possibly can. If I’m a little provocative on occasion in the opinion section, well, that’s part of the puzzle. You need to be thinking, too.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about our local chambers of commerce and their mission to help their members survive and thrive.
They share the challenges of the business community that supports them, especially in these times of correction after booms.
Their message, as you might imagine, hews closely to the “shop local” theme.
The local governments that profit from their local businesses can do more to help in these lean times.
I’m struck, for instance, by Vail giving out raises while its businesses struggle.
The county and other property taxing entities perhaps should be giving back to the business community somehow, but their message by keeping their gains is not helpful.
We’ve criticized both governments editorially for tone-deafness to today’s circumstances.
I don’t believe we’re off point with this observation, but it’s incomplete.
We, so far, have stopped short of offering suggestions that might be helpful.
What could the local governments do to not only share the pain but actually help the business community?
One big solution lies in that “shop local” theme, with the chambers right at the epicenter. Our governments should invest more in the business community that funds them. This simply is synergistic.
Eagle’s town government ought to look seriously at the marketing effort that some in its business community are suggesting.
Vail has done a pretty admirable job thus far and should do more in marketing and also to bolster its chamber of commerce. The chambers are crucial for the businesses in their communities to truly thrive.
Let’s understand that buying local means supporting the organizations that support the local businesses. This tugs at the very core of the message.
I’m asking our folks to look at what we can do to better support the chambers. We’re publishing their news, their events and now, their specials. What else can we do to help? That’s a top question in my my mind these days.
The chambers, like other entities, are political organizations in all the best and worst ways. They sometimes skirmish with the local governments ” and themselves ” in that great, messy quest for excellence.
But if we learn nothing else, lean times are that opportunity to learn how to better pull together.
We’ve all got some room to improve, I think. The payoff is that more people really will buy locally when they have a choice.
And no one is better at crafting and reinforcing the message than the chambers ” with a little help from some friends.
Don Rogers is the editor and associate publisher of the Vail Daily. He can be reached at 970-748-2920 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He welcomes your comments.