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Opinion: Stronger business, school collaborations only steps away

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“Be vocal for shop local” has been a phrase in the Nixa community for several years as a way to bring and keep more money local, which benefits all aspects of the communities in which we live. When we spend money outside of our community for the same things we can get in our town, we reduce an economic benefit that could be in place to keep our communities strong.

Having personally been a business owner, “be vocal for shop local” has always held a special place in my heart. We should all make an effort to do exactly that. If we shop local, our local economies will thrive, which provides our cities, counties and schools the money they need to provide the services we desire. When we don’t spend locally, we take away money that is needed to fund those services.

As Goliaths like Amazon and other online retailers come onto the scene, our local businesses can’t keep up. Plain and simple, fast-paced purchasing is now just part of our society. Who doesn’t like to place a quick order on your phone or online and then have it delivered right to your doorstep? It can save time, energy and money.

But when we take money out of our local economy, it costs us in more ways than we might imagine. When money isn’t coming in for roads, repairs aren’t made in a timely manner and there could be an increase in the cost of car maintenance. When money isn’t coming in for our police, there could be an increase in crime. When money isn’t coming in for our schools, cuts have to be made.

It is a balancing act for sure. The school district must be good stewards of our taxpayers’ dollars, so we have to look for the best deals. However, our local businesses also deserve a good, loyal customer base. Besides, does Amazon really care about us the way our local businesses do?

So what must we all work together to do? Adapt to the new normal.

When people needed flexible scheduling for the college classes, universities developed online and virtual courses. I had the opportunity to teach an online finance class this past fall, and it worked well for everyone because no one had to travel to take the class. We just logged in and could see each other face to face.

We also can work with our local businesses to let them know our needs and how they can improve. I’ve already seen local businesses – like Fetch or Tailwaggers – innovate and deliver the same things we can get online. Many other stores – like Price Cutter – are doing online ordering and even delivery in certain areas. As local community members, we should support our local businesses in their innovation efforts.

Thinking outside the box, could schools become incubators for some of our local businesses? Not only would this allow for student-business collaboration and mentoring, it certainly could help businesses get started and thrive in an environment already bustling with activity. Instead of job shadowing away from campus, could we develop a concept that allows our businesses to push into the schools and be something more than a speaker for the day? If we can give these small businesses a strong foundation, they can grow and prosper and, in turn, help support the local economy.

I do believe the old saying is true: It does take a village to raise a child. The same can be said for our next generation of businesses. We can band together to help our local businesses grow, thrive and become successful as they progress through their years of progress.

Brenda Rantz is the chief financial officer of Nixa Public Schools. She can be reached at brendarantz@nixaschools.net.

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