Who Was That Stranger?

The Baytown Chamber Today

Tracey S. Wheeler, IOM, President & CEO

The stranger you saw in town yesterday was passing through … perhaps he just needed gas, wanted a cup of coffee, or stopped for lunch. Maybe he was a salesman calling on customers in Baytown, or he could have been an industrial representative sizing up our area as a possible site for a branch operation. He could have been a doctor, dentist, attorney or pharmacist looking for a place to practice his profession. He might have been a merchant wanting to start a new business.

Individuals looking for a place to locate a new business often come to town unannounced, and in a short time they learn an awful lot about our community and us. They first notice the entrance to the city …. Is it attractive or is it littered with junk cars, rusty equipment, weeds and debris? They drive through the commercial areas. Do they see streets and sidewalks that are clean and free of litter? Are the area store fronts attractive? Does it look like a thriving community?

The individual/s may stop in at a service station, restaurant and/or a retail establishment. Does he receive a friendly greeting? Is the service good? Do the employees seem to like their work? Do they invite him to come again? He talks to people who live here. Are they glad they live here? Do they brag about the good things in the community? Do they show an interest in the improvements going on in the community or are they even knowledgeable of them? If the responses are mostly negative, this individual probably will never come to the Chamber of Commerce or contact City officials or the Economic Development Foundation. He will most likely leave quietly, drive on down the highway and find a community that cares.

All too often, we as citizens of this great community are our “own worst enemies”. We say terrible things about where we live. We are often uninformed about the development in the area or what the amenities are. All of us are responsible for being the “salespersons” for Baytown. The Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Foundation and the City cannot do it alone. It takes all of us to ensure that we have the kind of community that people are looking for when they are locating or relocating a business or their new home.

Not long ago, we had a visit from three people who did not identify themselves with a company but said that they were looking at Baytown as a possible site for a sizeable investment. The company would be bringing hundreds of new jobs to our community. They began, however, with a comment that most of the people that they had talked to did not live in Baytown and that others did not say nice things about the community. We spent about 45 minutes talking about all aspects of the community from schools to government and growth. Fortunately, when they left their attitude had changed somewhat. What would have happened if they had not found their way to the Chamber office? Would they have gone away thinking that they had wasted their time looking at Baytown as a possible site?

We should all be conscious of the service we provide, the attitude that we show and the kind of information that we give out. Baytown (while not perfect by any means) is a quality place to live and work, and we all want growth and development because it means prosperity for all.

Make yourself knowledgeable of your community and say positive things to visitors and new residents. If you need community information, it is available in the Chamber office. We are open Monday through Friday from 9:00 to 4:30 or you can access our website at www.baytownchamber.com.