What’s a community’s appearance worth?
Have you taken a good look at our community lately? I mean, a really good look like you’re seeing it for the very first time.
Do you look at our community the way a first-time visitor does or a business looking to relocate here?
If you do, you’ll see the trash illegally dumped around the Truckee Meadows. Maybe it’s an open space in Hidden Valley or Golden Valley that you pass every day, but you’ve become accustomed to the growing trash pile. While it may have become almost invisible to you, it isn’t to others.
What does that say about our community as a place to live or work? What does it say about us?
The short answer is the Truckee Meadows’ appearance says a lot about our community and the people who live and work here. During a time when communities are recovering from a devastating recession and seeking out any advantage they may have to encourage job growth, a community’s appearance becomes even more critical. We have some of the best outdoor recreation within minutes of our urban core a competitive advantage in attracting educated workers and their companies that can locate anywhere. Shouldn’t we take care of it?
As board chair of The Chamber, I know our city’s appearance is one of the first things a visitor notices when they arrive in the Truckee Meadows. I also agree with Mike Kazmierski, president and chief executive of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, that the impression that our prospective businesses have of Reno/Sparks depends upon a community-wide, concentrated effort to keep our region attractive.
If it’s so important to our community’s economic development as well as our own quality of life, what can we do to make it happen? Sure, we can each individually pick up our own trash or take advantage of organized legal dumping events to dispose of larger items, but what about our open spaces which are often abused by illegal dumping? How can we clean these up and try to prevent future illegal dumping there?
That’s where Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful and its dedicated group of volunteer supporters come in. Since this local non-profit began organizing the annual Great Community Cleanup in 2006, nearly 700 tons of trash has been removed from open spaces around our community! In just one morning last year, 573 volunteers and 25 companies removed tons of trash (including old tires, appliances and furniture) from 18 pristine spots like Hidden Valley, Eagle Canyon, Red Hill, and the Oxbow Nature Study Area.
The results are impressive, and the pictures tell the story. But what may be less obvious are other benefits from this community-wide effort. After a morning of working together as neighbors and co-workers, volunteers gather for a celebratory lunch. Stories are swapped, passions are shared, and new friendships are made. Participating companies experience greater team building than they would at pricey, day-long retreats. Volunteers benefit, sponsoring companies benefit and, ultimately, our community benefits.
For some of us, it’s a no-brainer that our community’s appearance is directly tied to our successful economic development and tourism efforts. I believe in it so much that I have agreed to lead KTMB’s Beautiful Business program. This is a new program designed to enlist the financial and volunteer support of local businesses for this year’s Great Community Cleanup scheduled for Saturday, May 11. By becoming a KTMB partner in this effort, businesses see a real return for their investment, just like NV Energy has experienced as the major sponsor of KTMB’s Christmas Tree Recycling program.
If you’re a responsible business owner, I’m sure you do your part to keep your workplace and surrounding environment free of trash. I want to encourage you to continue to do that, but I also want to challenge you to think beyond the borders of your workplace. The Truckee Meadows is our work and play environment, and we all need to commit to taking care of it just as we do our physical place of business. KTMB is ready to customize a sponsorship level for you that will meet your organization’s needs in terms of financial support, recognition and volunteer opportunities. And did I mention the fun involved? Spending a couple hours on a Saturday morning with your employees picking up trash with an outdoor lunch afterwards is an incredible team-building opportunity resulting in greater employee commitment than an expensive, consultant-lead retreat could ever achieve.
So what are you waiting for? For someone else to do it? A community is what its residents make of it. It takes all of us as individuals and as businesses to make the Truckee Meadows a more beautiful place to work and do business. I encourage you to partner with Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful, a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization lead by a local board of directors with only two full-time staff members. KTMB organizes 3,000 volunteers donating 9,000 hours annually. While local governments helped establish KTMB in 1989, it has been the local business community and individuals who have kept it thriving and efficient with 94 percent of all received funding used for one of its 10 programs. Join The Chamber and EDAWN today in supporting KTMB’s Great Community Cleanup on May 11. Visit http://www.ktmb.org or contact Kathy Carter at 775-813-1280 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how you can join us to make and keep a more beautiful Truckee Meadows.
Tim Ruffin, managing partner of Colliers International in Reno, is board chairman of The Chamber and chair of Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful’s Beautiful Business Program. Contact him at 775-823-9666 or at email@example.com.
“The thing that I like most about entrepreneurship is I can work toward something that I’m passionate about and be at the forefront of the change that I want to see happen,” said Priyanka Senthil, a senior at Davidson Academy in Reno and co-founder of startup company AUesome.