Businesses are the Lifeblood of Our Community

Guest Correspondence

BY CHRISTINE ROBINSON SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY MAR 21, 2020

We had forgotten. We forgot about the bad economic times from the great recession. 

We had over 12% unemployment in 2010. We lost restaurants and stores and construction just about totally shut down. Affordable housing was abundant in terms of single-family homes due to foreclosures and people just moving away. Government had restricted businesses so tightly that some of the ones that could brave the economy couldn’t brave the bureaucracy.

It took 10 long years for us to recover from those horrible times. Sure, we had significant blips of pain along the way, like red tide, but we very slowly came out of it. So much so that the businesses that supported our quality of life were beginning to feel like the bad guy as they became targets for no-growthers. In the no-growth mind set, less businesses meant less people.

We are now getting a reminder about why business is so important to our lives here. COVID-19 is causing businesses to be completely shut down, and therefore, residents are losing their jobs. We are watching small businesses owners stop paying themselves and trying to hang on as long as they can to pay their employees.

Many businesses are completely losing their most profitable month of the year– they may never recover and shut for good. Some of these businesses have been here for decades. Real estate transactions are coming to a halt. We are seeing restaurants forced to shut their doors and send home the last of what is in their coolers with their now unemployed workers. 

In spite of the chaos, we are also noticing the great things that businesses do to help our community at-large despite the hits they may be taking. We see businesses shift to answer the public needs from what is most profitable, to what will best serve their community in this crisis. When government is slow to act, we have businesses filling in the gap, like restaurants quickly volunteering to give free meals to kids who are on free and reduced lunch. 

Our business owners support our community. They are the sponsors of our non-profit events, the reason why we have philanthropy and they make an impact every day with their investments in our community foundations. They have been there supporting our work force and the neediest of our community.  

Now, it’s time we support them, because that support will be an investment in our community’s future.

Christine Robinson is executive director of The Argus Foundation.

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