Shop by shop, we build a strong community

Vale Chamber members gathered last Friday to celebrate the opening of a new business on the city’s main thoroughfare. It isn’t a big department store or a mega data storage facility, as might make headlines in large urban communities, but an owner-operated hair and nail salon.

Big city folks might be too blasé to notice, but such events are worth every bouquet and ribbon snip they get in rural Oregon.

In communities like ours, the opening of a business – whether large or small – is cause for celebration. We should laud and welcome those who take the initiative to enter the sometimes harrowing world of business ownership and the service industry, and also acknowledge all of the businesses we have that provide jobs, income and industry to keep our community strong.

Small businesses are an important leg of our regional economy. In a rural area, every single job counts, making our community productive and self-sustaining.

But the opening of a business is really a partnership – one that only thrives with community support. Consider the benefits: Local businesses provide services and goods, and in many cases jobs, that circulate cash into other businesses. They also contribute to our institutions – our youth programs, sports teams, fairground activities, cultural programs and more. They are the ones that say yes to the auction, the 4-H sponsorship, the school trip and all the other requests that roll in each month.

That alone is a big job, and for businesses to continue doing it, they need not just customers, but partners in the community. That means all of us – the residents.

In this day and age, Internet shopping and big box stores are a powerful pull, and they can easily sap the economic strength of rural communities in their orbit of influence. Across the state, rural towns show the result when storefronts go dark.

So let’s all think about the ramifications when we shop afar, and remember the value we reap from each business that opens its doors in our towns. A strong business community means a strong community, and we must all be partners in that equation. – SC