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Business Help with Community Improvements

By: Jennie Kermode - Updated: 10 Apr 2013 | comments*Discuss
Business Community Local Improvements

Improving the general appeal of your neighbourhood is good news if you're in business. It attracts customers from further afield and it makes local customers feel that they're better off, which is reflected in their spending habits. But every local council has limited funds and may be hesitant to undertake improvements by itself. This is where you can step in to offer to co-finance important projects, either with the council or with community groups. By investing in your community you can raise your profile and develop a reputation as a business which cares - and when you demonstrate this kind of loyalty to your customers, they'll be loyal to you.

Determine Local Needs

If you want to contribute to improvements in your local area, it's important to determine the priorities of local people. As a business you're well placed to do this. Talk to your customers and pay attention to their concerns. Try to develop a dialogue with community groups and organisations. If there are online discussion forums for your area, post there to ask what people think. Keep an eye on the local press and on community notice boards to see what other people are suggesting.

When they want to see the area improved, most people begin by talking to the council or to their MP. Try contacting these people to see if they have any suggestions and to ask the former if there are existing projects which you could help out with. If nothing else, it will put you on their radar, and if you need favours from them in the future they may remember you positively.

A Little Goes a Long Way

When it comes to improving your local area, there's no need to spend a fortune on spectacular new facilities. Often it's the smaller projects that really make a big difference to people's lives. This means that even if you only have a couple of hundred pounds to spend you can start getting involved in making improvements which everyone will notice.

Probably the simplest way to improve your local area is to increase its greenery. Tree planting is relatively cheap, good for the environment, and can really brighten the place up. Low-maintenance plants like daffodils can transform patches of waste ground into attractive neighbourhood features. Climbing plants like ivy and roses can bring a whole new life to shoddy facades. And if you want people to be able to make the most of these improvements, why not purchase a bench where they can sit and relax? Benches make it much easier for elderly and disabled people to get out and about, and the good word of mouth you'll receive as a result can do great things for your business.

The other thing that can make a big difference on a small budget is cleaning and painting. Stripping away rubble and old wood from decayed walls, repairing fencing, supplying new handrails where there are stairs, repairing bus shelters and helping to create safe play areas for children can all make a big difference to the way your community looks and feels. Simply repainting the walls of public buildings (with council permission, of course) can really brighten the place up, and you can get the community involved in these changes, for instance by getting local graffiti artists to turn their talents to something constructive, or by getting local schoolchildren to design the images they'd like to see in their neighbourhood.

Long Term Improvements

Although in some areas you may worry that your hard work will soon be undone by vandals, or that it will be a drop in the ocean as far as changing the overall appearance of the place is concerned, you might be surprised by how much long term difference it can make. By setting an example you can encourage community groups to take forward their own initiatives and invest more time and energy in keeping up the good work. You can also get together with other businesses to encourage them too to become community investors. After all, it's in all your interests.

Once a neighbourhood starts to look better, the attitude of the people who live there tends to change, and you'll find that they take more care to look after their surroundings. When your business invests in improvements, it's investing in everybody's future. By letting people know that you care, you can demonstrate that they and their surroundings are worth caring about.

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