Friday, October 14, 2011

Are you a value added person?

This question popped into my head as I was viewing a clip on the state of manufacturing in the US. In most cases, the greater the value that a company is able to bring to a product, the better their profit margins and the more successful they will be. I think that people can probably be judged in the same way.

To me, this means giving more back to the world than you take away. It may be as simple as a smile and pat on the back or a kind word. It could be helping someone get their groceries into their car (as a very kind young man did for my mother last week.) It could be stopping to help a woman who was frantic over her pet being hit by and car on a cold and rainy night (as my wife did this week.) It doesn't cost anything to be a value added person and the rewards in how you feel about yourself are tremendous.

I am sure you are asking yourself by this time: What has this to do with a buy local project? To me it is very simple: by shopping from businesses that are in our community, you are adding value to your friends and neighbors, creating wealth that stays in the county, creating jobs and growth.

Our retailers can be value added people as well, offering the best prices and service possible. Taking time to give their customers a smile and giving referals to other businesses in the county whenever possible.

By adding a little value to each others lives, we can make Stokes County an even better and more vibrant community in which to live.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Think Stokes First: The Arts Are Economic Development

Picking up where I left off with my last article, buying local and our effort to “Think Stokes First” is just a part of the process needed to help the county’s economy grow. It is an important part but by itself, it cannot sustain us alone.

Understanding that this is the case, our economic development efforts are very focused on retaining existing business and looking at every opportunity to help them grow. The EDC Board and the Board of County Commissioners understand that this is where the bulk of job growth will take place. “Think Stokes First” is just a part of this process, as is developing tourism, working with entrepreneurs, and whenever possible, recruiting new businesses to the area.

Our focus today is on the “Arts” and our artist community as an economic development engine. We are very fortunate to have a vibrant art community in Stokes County. The Stokes County Arts Council is led by a dynamic director: Eddy McGee. Eddy is supported by an extremely active board of directors. This small group strives to make art real for the entire community, from engaging our students in the schools, to hosting a winter desert theater, to providing venues all across the county for artisans of all kinds to practice their craft and to promote it to our citizens.

The arts and our artisans are essential to the health and vitality of our communities. They improve the quality of life in our cities and town. They enhance community development; spur urban renewal; attract new businesses and draw tourism dollars. Most artists and craftspeople are problem solvers and critical thinkers.

In addition, a healthy arts community acts as an economic engine for the county. A prime example would be the many live music events that take place during the year and the Stokes Stomp in particular. This year, the Stomp drew approximately 16,000 people to Danbury and for two days, transformed it into the largest municipality in the county and based on survey information gathered during the event spent about $1 million while they were in town.

While the other events of a musical or artistic nature do not have quite so dramatic an impact, all arts add significantly to the quality of life, which helps make this county an even more desirable location. The arts and crafts specific to our area define our unique characteristics, they attract tourists and other artists, they educate and keep alive our artistic customs and they contribute to the economic well-being of the community.

So if you are looking for a gift or a great way to pass some time this weekend, think about making the purchase from a local artisan or stop by that live music event at a local restaurant. It all comes down to “Think Stokes First.”