By Lara F. Bowman, Executive Director, Choctaw County Chamber of Commerce
When you ride around Choctaw County do you notice empty buildings? You will not have to look far to find a vacant storefront or a business.
Yes, many of these empty storefronts can be contributed to the great recession our economy is recovering from this past decade. And you may think oh well just another vacant building in town. No big deal, right? Empty buildings are everywhere.
I will have to disagree with you on an empty building being no big deal. Each and every one of those buildings is more than just empty!
Choctaw County has HUGE empty buildings to small empty buildings. No one municipality is exempt from vacant buildings or even the county. If these buildings stay vacant long enough they become an eyesore. Mother Nature will take a toll on a building that is not occupied and being cared for by a tenant.
When a building is vacant in city limits the city is losing sales tax revenue. A portion of sales tax is returned directly to the town and to your schools. Not only is a building vacant, but the city is losing money off this property not being occupied and generating income through sales tax.
I have addressed the obvious issues with vacant buildings being unattractive and a loss of money for everyone in the community. Now we can all sit back and wait for outside parties to come in pay top dollar and occupy our vacant buildings… Or what if we encourage and develop an entrepreneurial climate within our county where we support the business ventures of our neighbors?
Maybe you own one of these vacant buildings or would like to put a business in an empty space. This is where we must all work together as a community to support one another. A culture of entrepreneurialism must be cultivated in our county!
If you have an idea or talent that would be of service to the community, we must encourage and support your ambitions to prosper. A piece of your prosperity and having a successful business is finding the right location.
Location is important to existing business owners and those coming into business. Current business owners would love to have the buildings beside them occupied. This will only bring more traffic and customers to their front door. There is a chain reaction when one business opens their door in the community. You immediately aide and help the business next door to you.
You may think this will never happen; Choctaw County will never fill the empty, vacant storefronts in our county. And it will not if we sit back and just wait.
If you have a plan or an idea to open a business in Choctaw County there are multiple ways the Chamber of Commerce can support you. Adding commerce to our county must start on the home front with entrepreneurs like you!