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home : columns : columns July 26, 2017

3/15/2017 2:44:00 PM
Local businesses donated $250,000 locally in 2016

A wise person once said, "We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give."
You see both happening every day through businesses in our community. It's truly remarkable how much the local business community adds to our area in terms of money, merchandise/service donations and time.
Chances are you have benefitted from the generous hearts and donations of local businesses.
Don't believe me? Did you attend a local concert, sporting event, or artistic endeavor in 2016? Do you love a school kid, hunter, veteran, artist or senior citizen? Did you attend a summer celebration in the county? Go to the fair? Attend a walk, benefit, fundraiser or relay? All of these things - literally hundreds of great causes - were supported by your local businesses in 2016.
A while back, I began to wonder, "Just how big is the impact from local businesses?" Certainly, as a business owner and active volunteer, I know businesses are frequently asked to donate to various causes. But I wondered on a larger scale, "What did this really look like?"
So, I started asking Windom area businesses to share donation information with me. Many were willing to share some portion of that information.
These businesses don't look for public accolades. They donate to the community because they love this area, appreciate those who choose to do business in town and genuinely want to see our town grow and prosper.
In 2016 alone, Windom businesses donated more than $250,000 dollars to local charities, groups, fundraisers and organizations. Those dollars don't come from a mega corporation somewhere. They come from your friends and neighbors. One local non-profit told me more than 80 different local businesses had contributed to them in 2016.
To reiterate: Local businesses donated a quarter of a million dollars last year to our town. Those dollars built things, helped people and changed lives.
I'm going to be frank, here. Keeping it real, as the millennials like to say. Shopping local matters.
Just for a moment, pretend that we no longer have local businesses donating to our community. What does that look like? Is it still a community you want to be a part of?
When you take your dollars and go out of town shopping, you indirectly take dollars away from nonprofit organizations and groups you personally love and support. If you don't spend your dollars shopping locally, those dollars are not available to be reinvested (donated) by the businesses back into the community.
Certainly, it's not a quid pro quo. Businesses do not just give to those who are our customers, but it does matter.
Before you assume another donation from a local business, ask yourself, "Am I doing business with them?"
If you make most of your purchases on Amazon or at Wally World, your local business people aren't likely to know you. That may affect how much they choose to give, if they choose to give at all.
I know I'm preaching to the choir here. Research tells us that people who read their local newspaper are grounded and active in their community. So, help me spread the word to those who may not be aware of these important correlations.
C.S. Lewis writes, "Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of."
Let's aim for a community filled with victories every day! Let's do this together!

Tami McMenimen is President of the Windom Area Chamber of Commerce. Tami and her husband, Rob, own Smith Appliance Service in Windom.

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