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Businesses have options for making a difference

August 07, 2013
  • Robert A. "Bob" Poor
Robert A. "Bob" Poor

Q: My husband and I recently opened our first retail small business. We moved to Hagerstown from the D.C. area and know few people here. Where do we begin to make our small business part of the community?

A: One of the most talked-about issues in business today is corporate social responsibility, or CSR, where a business strives to have a positive effect on the public interest. But CSR isn’t just for large companies.

Small businesses have a long and proud tradition of “making a difference,” particularly on the local level.
Community involvement also raises the profile of your small business, creates a positive buzz and opens the door to new networking opportunities.

Check out Hagerstown’s Downtown Alliance to learn about a group of center-city small businesses who have banded together to make a difference by attracting shoppers downtown.

Nothing beats the chance to meet and network with fellow small-business owners and give back to your community at the same time.

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Another good starting point for finding community involvement options is the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce. It frequently sponsors events that offer opportunities to publicize businesses among its sizable membership.

Civic groups and charitable organizations also are great sources for community activities. You can sponsor youth sports teams or 5K races, contribute to food banks and roadside cleanups, or supply giveaways with your business name and logo. The possibilities are endless.

Then there are the local schools. They, too, have events that need sponsors, as well as career days, student mentoring and tutoring programs, and extracurricular clubs. Look for a direct tie-in to what your business does or the skills you utilize. For example, math- and science-related activities would be ideal for an engineering firm.

You can do these things in and for the community whether you are one-person small business or a large corporation. Research your community, then take the first step.

You also can contact SCORE Hagerstown, a nonprofit association offering a wealth of information, training and free counseling designed to help small businesses be productive and profitable.

For more information, go to www.score.org or call 301-766-2043.

Robert A. “Bob” Poor is a local small-business owner/operator. He is a small-business mentor and a regular contributor to the Ask SCORE column. Questions may be emailed to him at r.poor@myactv.net or sent by mail in care of The Herald-Mail, P.O. Box 439, Hagerstown, MD 21741, ATTN: Ask SCORE column.

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