Talking Community with the Chamber

Submitted by Tamarack on March 11, 2013 - 9:34am

This past Thursday I had the great privilege of talking community with Lloyd Longfield who is the President of Guelph’s Chamber of Commerce.  He opened me up to a whole new way of seeing community through the eyes of business.  The following is a reflection on this conversation...

 So often barriers are perceived between a business and the community it resides in.  They are seen as separate and therefore, it seems the business does not invest in the work of building community.  Many times, businesses are seen as a hindrance or an impediment to the local community.

 What people often do not realize is that community is essential to a healthy business and business is essential to a healthy community.  Businesses never exist in isolation from the community they reside in.  Their employees live within the community and therefore any community issue, like a shortage of doctors, will affect the businesses.  If employees are unhappy or unhealthy because of issues in the community, it hurts their productivity and hinders the moral and culture within an organization.

Therefore a business has a strong interest in helping build a healthy community and to be actively engaged in this process.

Businesses want to find a way to bring the best and the brightest into the community, both to benefit their business and also the community at large.  Some of what draws people to a community are the career opportunities available, in addition to the many aspects of a healthy community.  In the case of Guelph, this includes:

-lots of doctors looking for patients (easy to get a doctor)

-a strong school program for kids

-a local faith and/or culture group to get connected into

-festivals and a vibrant arts community

-a strong seniors association and supports for elderly parents

Because of this, businesses want to see these aspects of Guelph grow and spread.

Image is also really important to a business.  Their success is often based on how people in the community perceive them and how that perception influences their behavior.  Because of this, businesses have a strong incentive to be a community player. Corporate-social-responsibility is today’s big buzzword and for good reason; being socially responsible translates into a better investment of the community in their businesses.

The root word of corporation is corpus, which means body.  A corporation like a human body depends on a healthy environment or else it will die.  Therefore it is essential that we help remove the perceived barriers between businesses and their local communities and help them start to reach out to each other and help each other out.