How Small Businesses Help the Community is a question that I am often asked by non-profit organizations. Recently two very successful non-profits, Green Relief and Sunflower Fund got involved in an interesting debate about how small businesses can help the environment. The first party, a non-profit environmental organization called The Environmental Defense Association, claimed that a small business owned and operated by a farmer had helped the local area with low-cost organic cotton farms and other “green projects”. They claimed that the project enabled “at least 13 jobs and the community also benefits from low-income housing and reduced dependence on fossil fuels.” It was later revealed that neither of these claims were true.
The second party, a small business called Sunflower Fund, had a different view of the story. They claimed that a local small business owned and operated by an executive from Apple, the worlds largest company had in fact “created” a whole new market by supporting local agriculture. They said that this would result in “more jobs and more income for hardworking families throughout the South.” At least this part was accurate, but one has to ask what exactly the definition of a “local” business is.
In today's world, it is rare to find a truly “local” company that is anything other than locally owned and operated. Just consider all of the major corporations with stores within the nation or even the world. They are all national businesses that operate in every city, state, and country. In their own words, they say that they operate “in the communities where we do business.” How then can someone claim that a company owned and operated by a billionaire, a company with stores in all fifty states, is helping the community?
One person recently made this claim on a blog post that received a lot of attention. This individual, identified as Tiffany Taylor, a radio personality and writer, made the comment that it was “disconcerting” that “the small businesses that I like most” are not doing more to benefit the community. Specifically, she was upset that “these small companies” did not give back to the community more than they have. Specifically, she was upset that they “don't mind paying taxes so little guys can buy a Hummer and break into a big fancy mall for all their junk.” Tiffany Taylor continued that she was surprised that so many small businesses did not mind paying such “fines” and “fine” amounts for violations of zoning laws and regulations.
I was surprised by this comment, and I am surprised by the things that people say on the Internet and in person every day. The fact is, a small business is just that – small. It cannot be harming the community to give back to it. Just because it is a small business does not mean that it cannot contribute something positive to the community. The fact is, many very large corporations have given back to the community in the form of scholarships, jobs, free health care and so forth.
This is not to say that all small businesses do not take part in this good works of goodwill. But what I am saying is that the statement “small businesses help the community” is not entirely true. The fact . . . . . . is, many very large corporations take their fair share of community responsibility and donation, but there are also plenty of other large businesses who give back in the form of donations, assistance with city and state government assistance, and employment opportunities.
So, it seems to me, that those who say that how small business help the community is simply incorrect. And those who disagree with this statement is also incorrect. In fact, those who agree with me are simply misinformed, and they should correct the misinformation they have before they further confuse the public. It's as simple as that. Please consider this.
Indeed, I hope you will please consider all this. If you'd like to discuss this topic more, you may email me; I'd be happy to get your thoughts on this. Until then, I hope you will consider how small business help the community and how much good it does for the local economy. And consider this to be a thought from a local business owner. If you'd like to chime in, I'd be happy to hear from you.