A strong sense of community

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Kudos to the businesses who gave their employees last Friday off to prepare for the storm. As I rode in to the Clay Chamber office I thought about those organizations that could not close, would not close, because their mission is to ensure our health and safety. I cannot thank them enough for their selfless dedication.

The Clay Chamber has reached out to the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) so that we have their help as soon as Hurricane Irma passes. We aspire to provide a centralized point of contact for Clay County businesses to get information about services and support they may need to recover from this historic storm.

One of the things I like most about Clay County is our strong sense of community. We stand strong and united every day to preserve and enjoy our many natural resources and our business community always comes through for our non-profits, schools, and the community at large. Our dedicated civil service, local municipalities and government agencies, and military are always there for us. What one thing above all others can we, as a community do to repair, rebuild, and move on?

I think we must Buy Local. Buying local helps to nurture those local businesses that make sure we weather the storm. They employ local workers and serve primarily local customers. If we help them to recover and stay strong, they will help the county, ensuring that we have good jobs and low taxes. If we buy local, we determine the character of where we eat, shop, and have fun. Local businesses—the specialty shops, the boutiques, the neighborhood restaurants—color our community distinctive, personal, and caring.

The business community in Clay County is robust and many generations of residents have grown their businesses and families here. The Clay County Chamber of Commerce has served the business community since 1962 and has grown to nearly 1,000 members. While we offer a myriad of programs and resources that encourage entrepreneurship, we also encourage our members to support one another’s businesses. In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, I would like to encourage the entire Clay County community to help by supporting all our local businesses. If you want to help rebuild, have dinner at the corner restaurant, replace your fence with the small business down the street, hire the local arborist to maintain your trees. If we all pull together, we can pull out of the damage and debris and pull Clay County back to where it was before the storm—even better.

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