Better than a bailout

Published 9:51 pm Tuesday, December 2, 2008

If there’s one thing that would surely save small businesses during the hard economic times affecting our nation, it’s consumer spending. But since we now know that it’s an actual recession afflicting the U.S. economy, businesses can’t really expect such a quick and easy answer to their problems.

What business owners need now (assuming they aren’t the beneficiaries of a multi-billion dollar government bailout) is to be able to put their heads together and compare ideas for saving money and increasing foot traffic and sales.

Enter the Greater Suffolk Council, the Downtown Business Association, the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and other area business organizations. Each of those groups has a slightly different geographic focus. But the mission of each is similar — and could prove to be vital to the health, and even survival, of local businesses during what is expected to be a long, hard road to economic recovery.

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The Greater Suffolk Council, for example, describes the benefits of membership on its Web site. The group encourages partnerships between the businesses of Suffolk’s central commercial core, it advocates on their behalf, it provides information that can help members make informed decisions, it gives them a chance to interact and share information, it promotes its members and the central Suffolk area to potential customers and it provides advice to members considering changes to their businesses.

The GSC isn’t very different in its mission from any of the other groups that represent the city’s businesses. They’re all designed to help people with products connect with the customers who need them and, by extension, to find a way to prosper. That’s just what small businesses need in such an economic climate. And in one sense, joining a business organization could be better than a bailout. The benefits of that membership will still be clear, even after all the bailout money has been spent.