Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Buy and Shop Locally

Recently I became president of the Chamber of Commerce here in Hudson. While it may seem a little strange for the school superintendent to also serve as the Chamber president, I don't see it that way at all. The fact is, it is a rare occasion we may differ in our approach to a specific issue. The vast majority of the time I would argue that we are aligned in our position and share a key commonality: to make Hudson the very best that we can for all our citizens. We want to ensure our community thrives in all areas of business and education. Indeed our school does not operate in a vacuum, nor does the business community. It is through mutual cooperation and collaboration that we can improve the quality of life for all our constituents in Hudson. We must, and we do, rely on one another!

For example the school is uniquely positioned to provide a direct pipeline of future employees to our businesses. I have spent time listening to local business owners as they discuss with me what qualities they are looking for in their next hire, and by taking that information back to the district we are exploring ways in which to strengthen this pipeline. In fact, I have written about some of those efforts right here in this column. We know that post-secondary education is important, but that takes a variety of forms and doesn't necessarily mean a four year college degree. Yet that isn't the purpose of my post today. Today I want to share with you how the stewardship of our local resources are reinvested in our business community.

Most people realize and understand that the school district is one of the largest employers in town with a substantial budget. Because of this, we have quite a bit of purchasing power and try to do as much business in town as we possibly can. In fact, we actually have a policy that gives local preference. Board Policy Code No. 705.1 states the following:
As permitted by law, purchasing preference will be given to Iowa goods and services from locally-owned businesses located within the school district or Iowa based companies if the cost and other considerations are relatively equal and meet the required specifications.  
We try hard to do as much business as we possibly can locally. I hope that most would agree we do a decent job, although I am certain there are areas where we can improve. While doing business [locally] is codified for the school district in Policy, that is not the only reason we do so. We do so because of an understanding of what those businesses mean to our community. Without local business it makes it more difficult to have that high quality of life that we want for all our citizens. If our community members constantly have to go to the next town over, they may, at some point decide that it is much more convenient to simply live there. We must not allow that to happen! But as large as our purchasing power is as a school district, we can't go it alone.

Today I want to encourage you to visit our local businesses and shop locally as much as you possibly can. It is true, there are items and services offered in the larger Cedar Valley that may not be available in our home community. At the same time, there are many local businesses that would benefit from your patronage and I would encourage you to stay local.

Our community, both business and school is strong! Geographically we couldn't have it much better. I think this might be part of the reason that we are somewhat insulated from what has happened in many rural communities in Iowa. In some of those small Iowa towns schools are shuttering. Citizens of these communities are rightfully sad and believe that when the school closes it is the end of the town. That is usually not the case. That small town had likely been [barely] hanging on for some time. It probably began when local businesses began to leave.

Let's keep our business and school community strong! Be sure to shop locally!

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