An item in last week’s Mary Means Business column caught our attention as we head toward the end of one year and the beginning of another.
The column noted that Josh Read, at Edward Jones Investments, has purchased the downtown building at the corner of Main and Fifth Street formerly occupied by The Fashion Barn, which has been vacant and up for sale for close to two years now.
Such transactions are not uncommon in the business column, of course, but what struck us is something Read said about his decision to purchase the property, something we believe can apply to all of us.
Read noted that the building has long been an iconic fixture downtown, but his decision goes far beyond nostalgia. He is, after all, an expert on investing, so his observation carries some weight:
“One of the best investments you can make in your life is in the community,” Read said.
Read’s purchase of The Fashion Barn building is one of several recent downtown developments that are creating a buzz. Just south from The Fashion Barn, Chris Chain’s redevelopment of another historic building, the old Stone Hotel, is nearing completion. A few blocks to the east, the long-awaiting purchase of the sprawling First Baptist Church property should be completed early in 2022 and will create a mixed use development.
It is these kinds of projects that we most often think of when we hear the word “investment.”
But when we consider the term more broadly, we find that there are other ways we can invest in our community that may do as much to shape the future of our community as these developments.
Not all of us are entrepreneurs, business owners or investors, yet all of us have the opportunity to invest in our community.
John Almond is one example of the kind of investors we are talking about. So, too, is Stan Glover.
Soon after moving to Columbus from Arizona, Almond was disturbed by the poverty he saw in Columbus and endeavored to find some small way to help. He began knocking on doors in poor neighborhoods in an attempt to learn what people needed most and discovered that many, many children had no beds to sleep in. With the help of a few friends, he began building beds, just a few at first, since there was little money available. But over the next year, he began building connections with area churches, organizations and businesses. Today the “Bedz4Kids” programs has built beds for more hundreds of children throughout the Golden Triangle. Almond has partnered with Dickie Bryan, who runs a home for men recovering from addiction West Point, under an umbrella organization called The Golden Triangle Dream Center. The Columbus Young Professionals, a program offered by Columbus-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce, is also partnering with the Dream Center.
The synergy created by these collaborations will provide a range of services Almond could not have imagined just a couple of years ago when he first started knocking on doors. It’s proven to be a big investment.
Stan Glover’s investment isn’t likely to evolve into an organization, but it’s one that has not gone unnoticed. Stan has a mental challenge, but has found a way to serve his community. You may have noticed Stan picking up trash around his neighborhood. He’s been doing this for years. On Thursday, BankFirst will hold a short ceremony to honor Stan for his “investment.”
John and Stan are two examples of hundreds of people who invest in our community.
We encourage everyone to invest as well, either through church or civic organizations or through individual donations to a wide array of charitable organizations in our community. Groups like 100+ Women Who Care are an excellent way to invest. So, too, is your local chapter of United Way, which funds and supports other local nonprofits.
Look in your closet. There are warm clothes you don’t wear that would be a godsend. The Salvation Army or Palmer Home will be happy to get those clothes to people who need them.
When we pause to think of all that we have been blessed with, we should all be investors.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.