Within a few months’ time, everything has changed. Several businesses were forced to close their doors as COVID-19 infiltrated not only the cities but the rural communities as well. There will most likely be some businesses that never open their doors back up in the big cities of Louisville, Kentucky or Washington D.C., but I wonder how many will keep their doors closed in Green County, Kentucky.
Over the last year or so, there have been a few new businesses come in – Green River Live, The Caterpillar Crossing, Rock Bottom Wholesale – but there have been several that closed as well, including IGA. One business opens, another closes – that seems to be the pattern. There are fields of rubble that were once factories … most of them closed their doors and headed overseas for cheaper labor. Most people drive by the fields and probably don’t pay much attention to them because it’s just part of the scenery they have come accustomed to. To me, it’s a cemetery of lost hope. A field of lost dreams. A place where people lost their livelihoods.
There’s some people who are afraid of growth in these communities because they are afraid of what it will bring. In some ways, I can understand that. Some see increased crime rates, drugs, alcohol and all of the flaws a city might have. Right now, when I look at these communities, I love the people and sense of fellowship, but I hate knowing that my children will have to move away in order to find a decent job and gain some experience. We’re so used to working in factories and being paid so little with crappy benefits that we forget there’s a world out there with jobs that don’t require us to sacrifice our health and well-being for a little bit of money. There are jobs where we don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck. Maybe some people will think it’s just fed from greed, but I disagree. We have one life to live, so why are we choosing to be prisoners tied with constraints of minimum wage jobs with benefits that are a joke? Life is short. Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed. We just need to decide to break the bonds that are holding us back.
As the economy is allowed to open back up, I will shop the small businesses in Green County as well as the surrounding counties because I know they will need all of my support along with the support of our communities. The owners of these businesses have poured their lifesavings into opening their doors. They pour a ton of time, effort and energy into them with the hope they will succeed. Every time a new business opens, I hold that hope in my heart for them as well. You see, they were brave enough to chase their dreams and believed in our community enough to start a business. We can take our hard-earned money and spend it in bigger chain stores and restaurants as we pass by the places in our own community, but we are failing the small towns we love.
Maybe you read this and think you can’t make a difference … you’re just one person … one family. Maybe so … but, in order to keep breathe life into our town, it takes each of us doing our part … including you. Individually we are small, but together we are big enough to make a difference in the lives of the small businesses who need us. Maybe the thought has flitted through your mind that it’s not going to help you out, so why bother? That might be true, but I’m not thinking about the right now … this very second … I’m thinking about the future. The future of these towns for your children, my children … our grandchildren. Think bigger than I or me. We don’t get up and go to work every single day for ourselves. We do it for the people we love. You can make a difference. You just have to choose to.