Marshall trip gets mayor’s gears going on rural communities

Last week we had the privilege of Congressman Roger Marshall visiting our community with a specific topic in mind: the challenges and rewards available to rural grocers in America.

The Congressman’s staff sought out the Carlson family to gather insights on this topic to be best equipped to share their perspectives on the floor of the House. Greg, Mitch and Linda are truly wonderful ambassadors for all of Marion County.

This great experience really got my wheels turning and reflecting on many things about the dynamics of just how our rural communities work. Looking back upon my time serving in Senator Dole’s office, I remember the generally accepted paradigm as being “institutions are the life blood of the rural community.” You know, every small community must have a school, grocery store and gas station to survive.

The Carlson family reminded the Congressman and me that the true glue that holds our community together and allows us to prosper, regardless of the challenges, is the PEOPLE and the way they choose to engage in their community and with others.

Carlson’s Grocery Store is just one example of a very successful for-profit business in our county that has been not only operating for years but has been giving back to their community in so many ways that most people will never see or perhaps experience. Most of our amazing owners and operators of local businesses are generally too humble to ever tell the rest of the story or ask for praise or recognition. They choose to just do the right things for the right reasons.

Please allow me to share one example of what our local grocery does year in and year out, and remember similar things are happening every day as your business community has individuals sharing of their time, talent and treasure to make our community what it is.

Our local grocery store has operated and supported TWO stores for many years. In addition to the one we are all familiar with on the south side of main, they have faithfully supplied the one on the north side of the road—the Marion County Food Bank and Resource Center. Every week they provide access to and gift products that are not available from other sources. Their actions served to inspire the creation of the community garden by the local FFA group and volunteers to share a major part of their bounty with the food bank neighbors.

This same family is creating jobs and increasing our trained labor force each and every year. They actively seek out and partner with local producers to get their products on the shelves. They have an unwavering personnel policy of hiring our local students first when filling positions. They teach business skills not only inside the store but throughout the community by providing financial support to educational opportunities for all ages and social economic statuses.

The list goes on and on of ways they are engaged and invested in our community. They share their time, talents and treasure in our local churches, local community foundation boards, serve in leadership roles that impacts local housing and access to medical services. Additionally, we can’t forget the gift of humor Greg brings to all he does.

He’ll make you smile or laugh and if you dare to resist, he’ll persist until you do.

So, when you have that thought of saving a few bucks by driving 35 to 100 miles, please remember the hundreds of other GOOD things that will happen in your hometown when you “Shop Local, First.”