Vail Daily column: How to get involved in your community |

Vail Daily column: How to get involved in your community

Vail Valley Partnership members are the best. Just by nature of being engaged in your regional chamber, tourism bureau and economic development group, it’s apparent that you value community and are active in supporting the efforts that are important to you.

And to be clear, it’s not just those who belong to the Vail Valley Partnership; the same is true for those involved in other chambers and merchant groups, those involved in various industry associations, as well as folks engaged in nonprofit or other community boards. There are dozens and dozens of ways to get involved in the community.

I’ve learned during the years that there is a key responsibility business leaders must take on in order to be truly successful: Invest in the communities and give back by supporting organizations that make a positive impact every day.

My professional world revolves around understanding the local community and the things that impact our 800-plus business members in all business sectors, working closely with our stakeholders to determine the best approach to help create a positive economic/business environment and using data and research to help drive decisions. Oh, and I attend meetings. Lots of meetings.

The 2012 State of Corporate Citizenship report, conducted by the Carroll School of Management Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College, showed that corporate citizenship delivers positive business results and has positive impacts on the bottom line.

Corporate citizenship in this study was defined as corporate initiatives related to “community involvement, philanthropy, environmental and governance issues.” Contrary to what those who sit on the sidelines may think, the fact is that community involvement and being part of the solution to the issues facing a community doesn’t just make firms look good and employees feel good. Being involved actually helps achieve business goals and results in increased market share. The report shows that 80 percent or more of all executives, across all business types and industries, confirmed that community involvement had positive financial value.

Data shows that it is not only important that business leaders get involved in their community, but a responsibility to their own bottom line. A quick review of the local businesses that have won an award at the partnership’s annual Success Awards (specific award: Spirit of the Valley award) shows an impressive list of business throughout the valley, large and small, from a variety of business sectors including Alpine Bank, Crazy Mountain Brewing Company, Ski Butlers, R.A. Nelson & Associates Inc., Vail Valley Dental Care, The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa, Ruggs Benedict and Venture Sports.

Quite the cross section of our business community, with only one real similarity: They are all actively involved in the community.

But we have a few businesses not involved in anything outside their four walls. There’s a good chance that these businesses are “freeloaders.” A freeloader is loosely defined as a person who habitually depends on others. If this offends you, then it’s very likely that you are guilty of assigning blame and pointing fingers instead of getting engaged to find solutions.

The very essence of using a term such as freeloaders is not to offend, but instead encourage the business community to be part of the solution. As good as they are, it’s highly unlikely that Vail Resorts, the town of Vail, Eagle County or others are going to solve our various challenges alone. Research backs up my claim that the business community benefits from involvement, as evidenced by the Boston College report mentioned above.

Thankfully, it’s a very small number of businesses that fit the freeloader description. Does your business get engaged in the community to have a positive impact, or do you rely on (fill in the blank) to drive business to your doors? Do you sit around and complain about (fill in the blank) instead of controlling what you can? If so, maybe it’s time to reconsider your involvement in the community.

Take a look around. If you make the choice to not be involved and to not be engaged in the community and instead complain about things not going your way, it’s probably because there is someone who is involved in the community actively stealing your market share and growing their business at your expense.

Chris Romer is the president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.

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