What have you attended so far this year in the local community? A concert at the bandshell? The fireworks? A comedy show? How about a festival or a downtown event? Do you know anyone playing on a softball, volleyball, or Little League team?
I don't know how much you paid to participate but imagine if it had cost three or four or five times as much to attend events or have a son or daughter play on a Little League team. Would you still have participated?
Like most careers, my career allows me certain perspectives and advantages that others may not have. For example, I usually know what rumors regarding new businesses are actually true, and which rumors are just rumors. I also have the opportunity to learn about upcoming events quickly.
I am happy that I get to hear first-hand from visitors how much they enjoy this area. One other unique thing this career leads me to observe is how much the area businesses give back to the community.
When you see a poster advertising an event or hear a radio ad promoting something special, what part of the promotion do you pay attention to? It's easy to pay the most attention to the details of the event but more often than not, those promotions include more than just the event details. They also often include event sponsors.
Because of my career, I pay close attention to the sponsors of events. I am continually amazed at how much our businesses give to the community. I pay close attention because I like to stay on top of what businesses are up to. I like to mentally track patterns of support because it can provide helpful insight into the business climate. But I pay close attention for more than just my own research. I pay close attention because of the pride I feel when I see how much the members of the business community care about the health of the whole community.
I don't know a dollar amount of what businesses invest annually. Nor do I know how much they give in-kind. What I do know is that they receive hundreds of solicitations every year, and that we are fortunate to have many wonderful events and opportunities every year. I also know the cost to put on an event is not small, yet it is relatively inexpensive (often free) to attend an event, or play on a summer ball league, or get involved in another opportunity.
Community events are not easy to put on. They take an enormous amount of work. But they also take an enormous amount of financial support. If it wasn't for the support of the business community, many events would not happen. Admission would have to be priced so high that not too many people would choose to attend.
Just one small example is our Alpenopoly Grub Crawl. Without the sponsors, tickets would easily cost twice as much, or even more. And I do believe we would have a tough time selling many tickets for that much more. Thankfully we have caring businesses that want to see a vibrant town and help make this event, and so many others, possible.
It is easy to overlook event sponsors. It is easy to attend a community concert or play on a team, or participate in a community event, have a lot of fun, create great memories, but never really look at the bigger picture of how it was made possible. I think it's important to recognize the amazing businesses we have in this community. So many donate time, finances and other in-kind services to make this a better, more thriving community.
You undoubtedly will participate in another event before the year is over. You also will see a poster or hear an ad for another opportunity, I'm sure. My hope is that you pay a little more attention to the businesses that help make it possible. Thank them when you see them. Even better, support them by spending money with them. We are a community and that is how a healthy community works best - we all support each other.
Jackie Krawczak is the executive director of the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce. Her column runs bi-weekly on Tuesdays. Follow Jackie on Twitter @jkrawczak.