Celebrating the Relationship Economy

treeGood business in a free market economy boils down to the intersection between supply and demand.  Investment chases opportunity.  The price of goods is determined by market forces.  Consumer buying behavior is illustrated with indifference curves mapping customer utility.  The invisible hand ensures that individuals acting within this construct together create social benefit.  Right?

These principles inform our overall economy and even our local business community.  But while you might think that your Chamber of Commerce exists to ensure that capitalism is given free reign, we believe our mission is a bit different.

Successful business is the culmination of multiple strong relationships.  Especially in a small community, a strong economy is based not just on price, product and promotion but also on faith, hope and trust.  The Chamber exists to help our businesses build connections – relationships that might not develop in a busy, noisy, hyper-competitive world.

This time of year, it is important to take a minute and remember that life doesn’t always follow an economics text book.  Small business thrives with community and profit in equal measure.

We appreciate those who invest in our community.  We appreciate the employees who come to work every day.  We appreciate our municipal staff, especially public works and safety, without which we wouldn’t have the basic infrastructure needed to survive.

We appreciate our elected officials, who toil endlessly without profit to further our vision of community.  We appreciate the countless volunteers who serve on boards or donate time and treasure to our nonprofits.  We appreciate our educators who choose a career of impact over financial wealth.

We appreciate our customers – not just for their purchasing power.  We appreciate the time they take to visit and learn about our businesses, provide input and tell their friends.  We appreciate that customers have unlimited choices but still want to support the businesses that comprise our economy.

“Season’s Greetings” means more than packages under a tree.  Yes, we are a capitalist society.  But we also are a human economy, built strong through relationships and combined spirit in search of a better world.  For all of us.

This post originally appeared on www.oakpark.com on December 21, 2015

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