When a grocery store decides to build in a new location, plenty of research goes into where exactly that should be, said Tammie Hoy Hawkins, CEO of CommunityWorks in Greenville.
“Grocery stores really do their financial calculations on rooftops,” she said. “Harris Teeter doesn’t just decide to go on a certain street. They do an entire financial analysis.”
Other businesses do the same.
To be healthy, neighborhoods must be able to attract businesses — like grocery stores. Community members get convenient access to goods, while companies get customers who spend money on their products.
The more economic development or income an area has, the more business it’s able to attract. However, businesses can do their part in order to sustain their local communities. That incentive creates a win-win all around.
Organizations like CommunityWorks — a nonprofit financial organization assisting people and communities with financial education and investments — can often work with financial institutions to help support individuals in their financial goals, according to Hoy Hawkins.
“In many cases, we work hand-in-hand with banks because they don’t have the time or the resources necessary to provide that financial coaching and that financial wellness to households or for families to ensure that type of financial security,” she said.
For a community to be stable, all levels of income and employment must be stable — from doctors to custodians.
Businesses can tap into their corporate social responsibility in order to benefit their local communities, said Johnnie-Lynn Crosby, regional business solutions director at SC Works Greater Upstate. While it’s good for a company’s bottom line, working in local communities is also attractive to job candidates. It helps to recruit talent.
“Increasing their skills, increasing their wages, it only makes our community stronger,” Crosby said. “It helps us pull in other companies. It’s an economic development strategy.”
Companies that work to improve the community’s health often inspire employees to give back too, according to Crosby.
One way to benefit the community is to expand candidate searches to include low-income areas, places recruiters may not have reached out to before. A company that does this may receive financial help from SC Works on training reimbursement, Crosby said.
For her, it goes back to corporate social responsibility: “It’s something that’s just in human nature to do the right thing and give someone a chance and change somebody’s life,” she said. “It becomes very addicting.”