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Cities Find Ways to Connect Business to Government

May 16, 2016  |  Lamar Norton, GMA Executive Director
Lamar Norton
We talk about the impact cities can have on the lives of residents. That’s natural be­cause we think of government as being “of the people, by the people and for the people.” But government—particularly city government—also has strong connections to the business world.
Businesses rely on cities to provide the foundation for them to operate. That means ensuring basic infra­structure like water and sewer; parking for customers; and roads for moving goods. Cities are also providing additional help for business incubators to help entrepreneurs test the market and per­fect their business plans. Just as importantly, cities look to stream-line permitting to help companies get up and running even sooner.
Cities have a vested interest in helping businesses succeed. Cer­tainly, cities need the tax revenue that businesses generate. But they also need the goods and services that businesses provide and the way stores and restaurants attract people to towns. It is interesting to note that in our recent survey of elected city officials, the most often listed profession was “business and financial” and 32 percent indicated they own their own business. City officials understand the importance and the role of business in their communities.
During Georgia Cities Week, we saw numerous examples of city government and local businesses partnering on events. Cities hosted events to bring more people downtown and businesses stayed open later to accommodate them. Busi­nesses supported Georgia Cities Week events by sponsoring events and pro­viding prizes for contests. At GMA, we have long had a policy supporting E-Fairness—the collection of sales taxes by on-line merchants—because we understand the disadvantage Main Street businesses face when their on-line competitors don’t collect sales tax.
Like most relationships, there is al­ways room for improvement, and we look for new ways of connecting busi­ness to government. At the Annual Convention this year we will have a concurrent session on Business Friendly Cities. These cities will provide examples of how cities can make it easier for businesses to succeed.
Even without the session, however, cities are always connecting with local businesses and asking, “How can we help you?”
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