What Will Happen In 2020
As we reflect back on 2019 and look ahead to 2020, I can’t help but wonder honestly where will we all be on December 25, 2020?
Now some of you may be scratching your head and thinking, “What is he talking about? I plan on being right here in my hometown, doing the same things I’ve always done, working at my same employer and going to my same hometown stores.”
When in reality, we probably should be doing more with our local businesses and working to see that our local community grows in 2020, ensuring we have the chance to do some of the small old things we’ve always done.
This past week, I’ve been aware of four local businesses, some of which have been around for several years, that are closing their doors this week.
Now you could say its competition that had them close their doors, its the local economy, it’s poor management or lack of planning and foresight, but honestly it’s kind of sad to see the world we’re turning into at this point.
There used to be a time when going into a local business to purchase products from a friendly face you’ve known for years mattered. While purchasing said product you not only impacted their family, you impacted the family that helped advertise said product, you impacted the city for which you purchased said product, not only through a sales tax that pays for services such as parks, police and streets but also said business used city services for electric, water and sewer, that kept local people employed with the city.
I’ve had local businesses in the clothing industry tell me customers have come in and tried on said product and then said, “Thanks, I wanted to see how it fit before I ordered it online, I can save $5 and get free shipping on scamazon.” Really? Someone actually does that? Yes, as I’m told by several business owners, yes they do.
Now I don’t wanna seem like the old man sitting on the porch of my favorite store sipping on a cold soda as people walk by, I’m a tech kinda guy, I like to adapt and overcome with technology, I’ve had to order an item online that was not available in my local stores, but I also realize the importance of local businesses succeeding in my community and region.
Going into my 30th year here at the Sullivan Independent News, I’ve seen some doom and gloom eras: The Wal-Mart SuperCenter era in which the monster was going to push out all small mom and pop stores in the community-they did some, but overall many continued on; the epic recession of not too long ago in which we saw several businesses close their doors but many pushed on and now the era of amazon and online shopping, online social media advertising blitzes and the new way of shopping and doing business.
I’ve observed several small businesses making adjustments and still succeeding and no doubt, we will all push on. I just wonder who will be left standing at the end of 2020 and what does the next five years have in store for our community?
The landscape of Sullivan has changed, no doubt, as larger corporate entities make their moves in the growing economy and will that trend continue?
In the newspaper business, my family and I hope that print media lasts for many years to come and honestly, as we look across the world of journalism today, it’s where news is still reported as it is supposed to be: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How, to the best of our ability and with the facts as they are presented at the time the article is written.
No bias, no favoritism just the facts as we have them. Does that mean there could be some inaccuracies? Sure, it happens, as news is fluid these days. You combine our print media-14,250 people reached on a weekly basis based on 5,700 newspapers and 2.5 people each reading each print edition, with our social media platform-Facebook-nearly 15,000 followers-50,000 to 100,000 views a month, and our website that draws as many or more people, who have a strong grip on our local news and economy. Yet, as more businesses decrease in our community, more businesses want to try the next, “Big Thing,” in advertising, we find our advertising clients downsizing some advertising or becoming non-existent, which threatens our very publication. We have also had new businesses advertise with us and voice how impressed they are with the clients the newspaper advertising has brought them. So yes, we have loyal advertisers and new businesses coming on but it takes tremendous support to continue going forward.
We have dodged the, “print is dead monster ,” as we still have many loyal readers and subscribers purchasing our publication. Yet, those numbers could be through the roof, but people sometimes have fallen into the “free news is best news” aspect and flock to our social media for some basic content but not the full story they could have found in print had they picked up our local paper.
I bring all of this forward for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, if we do not have local businesses succeeding, you will see our city declining from a lack of sales tax revenue as services would have to be cut. You will see empty storefronts and real estate developers losing revenue that they would spend in the local community because their property is not occupied with a stable business renter. And, for our news publication, you could see a lack of media reporting on government agencies on the local level causing a disconnect with the public and no way to get the voice of the people out.
Sure, social media sites are everywhere, every government agency and group in town has one or five and often pushes their info out to the masses, but how many people are being excluded who don’t have social media, who don’t want to follow all this info on their social media platforms and are more concerned with what Cindy Lou Who is doing and not what the softball girls just accomplished or that the school just won an award?
Our newspaper is the original social media platform where you find out what the city council is voting on at their meeting; what the fire district is spending your tax dollars on; who is running in the upcoming
April election; what the high school sports teams are doing more in depth; who are the shining stars in the school campuses; and what items are being publicly auctioned or bids are being taken in public notices.
So this holiday season I ask everyone to take a look around their community, support local businesses, support our publication, we all want to be here on December 25, 2020 and continue to see our area grow and prosper.